Osteoporosis: Risk Factors & Prevention

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Osteoporosis poses a big risk to a person's quality and even quantity of life. It turns out that there are also many risk factors for this disorder. This lesson tells you what they are and which ones can and cannot be controlled.

What is Osteoporosis?

Sometimes in life, you have a choice. You can choose to be healthy now and set yourself up to be healthy in the future. Other times, you do not have a choice. Lots of exercise and good food are a choice. Poor genes are not.

So, as you can see, the risk factors for osteoporosis are sometimes controllable and other times they are not. Osteoporosis is a word that literally means porous bones. Inasmuch, it leads to weak and brittle bones, ones that can fracture as a result of a fall from even a standing height.

Osteoporosis leads to weak and brittle bones as a result of a lower than normal density of the bones

Controllable Risk Factors & Prevention

There are unfortunately many risk factors for osteoporosis. First, let's go over the controllable risk factors, the ones people can do something about either at home or thanks to their doctors.

  • A diet low in calcium and vitamin D. This can be changed by eating more milk products, drinking juices fortified with the two, or taking vitamin and calcium supplements.
  • An eating disorder, such as anorexia, which causes malnutrition. Counseling can help people with this condition.
  • A sedentary lifestyle. Too little exercise can lead to weakened bones. Running, walking, and weight lighting are all ways bone strength can be increased.
  • Low sex hormone levels, such as estrogen in women and testosterone in men. These levels can be brought back up with hormone replacement therapy.
  • Depression may cause hormonal changes that lead to osteoporosis. Counseling and medication can help people with depression and thus can help minimize the chances of osteoporosis.
  • Smoking. Tobacco use has been linked to bone loss and thus a person can stop smoking to combat osteoporosis.
  • Drinking. One drink on rare occasion is fine but regular consumption of alcohol has been linked to decreased bone density. A person with a drinking problem should seek help from a licensed healthcare professional as a result.
  • Medications. Certain medication can lead to increased bone loss. People on long-term medication need to talk to their doctor to ensure this is not contributing to osteoporosis.


Some diseases, especially if left untreated, increase the chance's some people will develop osteoporosis. If they are treated or brought under control, their impact on the development of osteoporosis may be negated or minimized. These disorders include:

  • Hyperthyroidism, which causes high levels of thyroid hormone in the body
  • Diabetes, which causes high blood sugar levels
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, which is a disease that causes chronic inflammation of the digestive tract

Uncontrollable Risk Factors

Of course, not all risk factors for osteoporosis can be controlled, and thus, be prevented. These risk factors include:

  • Age. We all get older. And the older we get the higher the risk for developing osteoporosis.
  • Sex. Women are far more likely to have osteoporosis than men. This is especially true after menopause.
  • Race. Caucasian and Asian women are more likely to have osteoporosis than African Americans and Hispanics.
  • Build. You know how some people are big boned and others are small boned? Well, it turns out that small boned people (men or women) are at higher risk of osteoporosis.
  • Genetics. Unfortunately, it seems that osteoporosis seems to run in some families. If you have a family history of this disorder, then you should be extra vigilant.

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