Osteoporosis is a disease that causes weaker bones, and it happens most often in older adults, but especially among women. They have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis simply because of their genetic makeup. Statistics from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases estimate as many as 70% of those at risk for osteoporosis are women, and of the 8 million Americans with osteoporosis, 80% are women.
Risk Factors for Developing Osteoporosis
Some of the risk factors that make women more prone to developing osteoporosis include:
- Having smaller, thinner bones
- Reaching menopause before the age of 45
- Hysterectomy surgery, especially if the ovaries were removed
- Absent periods for more than 6 months
- Being a breast cancer survivor
Women reach peak bone mass around age 18, where men do around age 20, and that also means they start to lose bone density earlier than men do. Menopause causes the body to produce significantly less estrogen, which helps maintain bone. This can lead to a rapid decrease in bone health for women who are not careful about their diet and exercise and other preventative measures to decrease their risk of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis Prevention Tips
The good news? Osteoporosis isn’t an inevitable part of the aging process. Doctors today are trained on how to prevent, detect, and treat the disease like never before. Your doctor can train you on better lifestyle habits to protect your bones, especially if you are a woman who is at higher risk. Your doctor may prescribe estrogen hormone replacement therapy (HRT) if you are at increased risk, although there are potential side effects of HRT, such as its correlation to breast cancer. Women who have had breast cancer and are diagnosed with osteoporosis, for instance, cannot take supplemental estrogen.
Remember: Protect your bones as a young person. Even teenagers can take proactive steps to protect their bone health and build denser, stronger bones through a healthy diet, exercise, and not smoking or drinking.
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