doctors examining knee x-ray for signs of osteoporosis

Brittle Bones: Four Facts About Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is quickly becoming a national health care concern.

It’s estimated that 10 million Americans now have osteoporosis and 34 million are at risk. Whether you’re young or old, male or female, chances are good that you — or someone you love — will be affected by the disease.

“In osteoporosis, your bones become thin and brittle, putting you at increased risk of a bone fracture,” says Susan Greenspan, MD, UPMC’s director of osteoporosis prevention and treatment. “In advanced stages, simple acts like lifting a baby or sneezing can lead to a fracture.”

Four Facts Everyone Should Know About Osteoporosis:

  1. Osteoporosis can appear at any age. But after the age of 50, one out of every two women — and one out of every four men — may experience a fracture due to the disease. These breaks occur most often in the hip, wrist, and spine.
  2. Osteoporosis is silent. It’s often diagnosed only after a fracture. Menopause, family and medical history, physical build, and your lifestyle and diet can increase your odds of the disease
  3. You can take proactive steps at any age to promote bone health. These include: eating foods rich in calcium, such as milk, cottage cheese, and calcium-enriched juices; exercising (weight-bearing exercise like walking); stopping smoking; and limiting alcohol use. If needed, consider taking a calcium supplement and vitamin D daily.
  4. The good news is early detection is easy.

If you’re 65 years of age or older, Dr. Greenspan recommends talking to your doctor about your risks. A simple bone mineral density test can assess your bone health. To learn more about osteoporosis, talk to your primary care provider, or visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation’s website.