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Osteoporosis is a thinning and weakening of the bones, usually associated with the aging process. The bones hold almost all of the body’s calcium – the remaining small amount circulates for use by the body. Bone, like other organs, is constantly breaking down and reforming. With osteoporosis, the amount of calcium present in the bone slowly decreases, causing the bones to become brittle and prone to fracture. Often, the diagnosis of osteoporosis is not made until a fracture (broken bone) occurs with only moderate pressure.
People at increased risk include:
- Women who go through early menopause or hysterectomy with removal of ovaries, those who are anorexic, or who have never given birth.
- Men at risk include those with decreased testosterone levels due to treatment for prostate cancer, or surgery for testicular problems.
- Men or women at risk are those who have a family history of osteoporosis, or have taken high dose medicines for long periods of time, or have coeliac disease or another condition causing malabsorption.
Last Review Date: January 2, 2018