Lauren Becherer | HealthGreatness
Remember when you were told repeatedly as a kid to drink your milk to build strong bones? That statement holds true for more than just rock-solid bones, but also to help prevent osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the bones to become weak and susceptible to breakage. Individuals with osteoporosis commonly fracture bones in the wrist, hip or spine. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, about 54 million Americans have the disease or are at high risk due to low bone mass. An estimated one in two women and one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone as a complication of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is generally found in people over the age of 50 because bones become frailer with age. The disease is most common in older women but can happen to men or women at any age.
Young people can definitely acquire the bone disease—especially girls. This is because of the correlation between menstrual periods and osteoporosis. Teens and college-age women who have a low body weight or exercise excessively may lack menstrual cycles. This condition, called amenorrhea, causes decreased estrogen levels, which can contribute to osteoporosis.
Peak bone mass, the point that people have the greatest amount of bone, occurs between ages 18 to 25. Bones are more susceptible to breakage after this period when there is more bone loss than formation. Osteoporosis is more common in older women because of bone loss that results from menopause.
Causes of osteoporosis in young people include broken bones, body size, gender, family history, a diet low in calcium, and lifestyle choices such as smoking or inactivity. While some of these risk factors are uncontrollable, there are a number of ways you can prevent the chance of osteoporosis. Controllable risk factors include a proper intake of calcium and vitamin D, getting enough exercise, not smoking, and a nutritious diet.
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