Osteoporosis: Causes & Risk Factors

Some people are more likely to get osteoporosis than others. For starters, although osteoporosis can strike at any age, it is more common in people 50 and over, when more bone breaks down than is replaced. And it affects women more than men.

Here are some other risk factors for osteoporosis:

  • Estrogen. When estrogen levels in women drop (either at menopause or for any other reason), your body will build less bone.
  • Nutrition. Not getting enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet can weaken your bones.
  • Family history. Having a parent who had osteoporosis or broke a bone as they got older means you are also at risk.
  • Your build. Being small and thin puts you at risk for osteoporosis.
  • Certain medications. Meds like steroids can cause bone loss, and so can some treatments for seizures, cancer, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases. Ask your doctor if any medications you are taking may be causing bone loss.
  • Smoking. Can decrease bone-building activity of osteoblasts, along with other factors that lower the mineral content of bone.
  • Inactivity. Not exercising or engaging in regular physical activity makes it more likely for you to get osteoporosis.
  • Testosterone. Low levels of testosterone in men can lead to osteoporosis.