Osteoporosis is a progressive disease that causes bones to become thin and brittle, making them more likely to break. Both women and men are more apt to have osteoporosis if they fail to reach their optimum bone mineral density during the childhood and teenage years, critical times for building bones.

Osteoporosis is related to the loss of bone mass that occurs as part of the natural process of aging. Although osteoporosis can occur in men, it is most common in women who have gone through menopause.

Not getting adequate calcium and phosphorus—two minerals needed for bone density and strength—and a lack of vitamin D can also contribute to the development of osteoporosis.

Not being physically active can also lead to osteoporosis.

Prevention and treatment of osteoporosis include eating a diet with sufficient calcium and vitamin D, getting regular exercise, quitting smoking, avoiding excess alcohol, and taking medicine to reduce bone loss and increase bone thickness.

Last Updated: November 21, 2008

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

related physicians

related services

Bon Secours International| Sisters of Bon Secours USA| Bon Secours Health System

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2010 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.