Interactive Tool: Are You at Risk for Osteoporosis?

What does this tool measure?

Interactive Tool: Are You at Risk for Osteoporosis?

Click here to find your risk for osteoporosis.

This tool measures the risk for developing thin and brittle bones (osteoporosis) in women age 45 and older. It is based on information from the Osteoporosis Risk Assessment Instrument.1

This tool is for most women age 45 and older. The results may not be accurate for women who have serious health problems. And it may not be accurate for women who have taken medicines such as corticosteroids for a long time.

The answers you choose in the tool are related to four of the major risk factors for osteoporosis. They are:

  • Being a woman. Men have a much lower risk than women do.
  • Being older than 65.
  • Having a thin body build.
  • Not taking estrogen. Estrogen (alone or in combination with progesterone) slows bone thinning and causes some increase in bone thickness. There are risks to taking estrogen, but it may be used to prevent or slow bone loss in women who are at risk or have osteoporosis.

Other risk factors that affect both men and women include:

  • Personal or family history of easily or unexplained broken bones.
  • Use of medicines that may cause osteoporosis, such as steroids or too much thyroid medicine.
  • For women, early menopause, which may be caused by ovaries not working properly or by surgical removal of the ovaries.
  • Family history (mother, father, or sibling) of osteoporosis.
  • Smoking.
  • Frequent use of alcohol.
  • Little or no weight-bearing exercise.
  • A diet low in calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus.
  • Hyperthyroidism or other conditions that make the body unable to absorb enough calcium.
  • European or Asian ancestry.

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  Risk of osteoporosis

What does your score mean?

Your score is based on your answers to questions about your gender, age, weight, and use of estrogen:2

  • A high score (18 and over) means you are at risk for osteoporosis.
  • A moderate score (9 to 17) means you may be at risk, based on those factors.
  • A low score (8 and under) means that you do not appear to be at risk, based on those factors.

It's important to remember that there are other risk factors for osteoporosis and that having more than one risk factor means your risk may be higher. A woman who is younger than 45 may have risk factors for osteoporosis that are not measured by this tool.

How the tool will calculate a woman's risk
 

Points

Age in years

 
75 or older 15
65 to 74 9
55 to 64 5
45 to 54 0

Weight in pounds

 
132 lb or less 9
133 lb to 153 lb 3
154 lb or more 0

Currently taking estrogen (alone or in combination with progesterone)

 
No 2
Yes 0

What's next?

If you are concerned about your results, talk to your doctor. A diagnosis of osteoporosis is based on your medical history, a physical exam, and a test to measure your bone thickness (density). The most accurate test is called a DEXA scan.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all women age 65 and older have a bone density test. If you are at increased risk for broken bones caused by osteoporosis, you should start routine screening at age 60.3

For help deciding if and when testing is right for you, see the topic:

Click here to view a Decision Point. Should I have a DEXA scan?

Getting regular exercise and eating a diet that has enough calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus can reduce your chances of severe bone thinning. For more information, see the topic Osteoporosis.

Source: Cadarette SM, et al. (2000). Development and validation of the osteoporosis risk assessment instrument to facilitate selection of women for bone densitometry. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 162(9): 1289–1294.

Source: Cadarette SM, et al. (2004). The validity of decision rules for selecting women with primary osteoporosis for bone mineral density testing. Osteoporosis International, 15: 361–366.

References

Citations

  1. Cadarette SM, et al. (2000). Development and validation of the Osteoporosis Risk Assessment Instrument to facilitate selection of women for bone densitometry. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 162(9): 1289–1294.
  2. Cadarette SM, et al. (2004). The validity of decision rules for selecting women with primary osteoporosis for bone mineral density testing. Osteoporosis International, 15: 361-366.
  3. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2002). Screening for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women: Recommendations and rationale. Annals of Internal Medicine, 137(6): 526–528.

Credits

Author Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH
Editor Kathleen M. Ariss, MS
Associate Editor Pat Truman, MATC
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Updated September 1, 2008

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