Osteoporosis is the main cause of bone fractures in postmenopausal women and the elderly. In fact, it is a factor in more than 1.5 million fractures of the back, wrists and hips every year. Osteoporosis can affect any bone in the body, but the spine, hips, ribs and wrists are the most commonly fractured by a fall. Osteoporosis can also cause a hump in the upper back and/or loss of height.

In a process called bone turnover, bone tissue is regularly replaced. Osteoporosis occurs when bone tissue breaks down faster than it is replaced, resulting in brittle bones that are susceptible to breaks. At around age 40, bone cells begin to die faster than new ones can be produced which can lead to osteoporosis.

Risk factors for osteoporosis include:

  • Aging
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Early menopause
  • Family history
  • Inflammatory arthritis or other inflammatory disease
  • Smoking
  • Certain medications, such as corticosteroids
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