A Closer Look at the Risk Factors

Many things can weaken bones, from aging to everyday habits. Some of the risk factors for osteoporosis are uncontrollable, linked with gender or genetics. But the good news is that you do have control over many other things that put you at risk. Changing your lifestyle to avoid these factors will help your bones—and benefit your health in other ways as well.

Risk Factors You Can Change

A Diet Low in Calcium and Vitamin D– Calcium is one of the most important building blocks in bones. Vitamin D is crucial for calcium absorption.

Cigarette Smoking– The chemicals in cigarettes are toxic to the bones.

Drinking Too Much Alcohol– Excessive alcohol may decrease bone density. Some studies have suggested that moderate alcohol, one drink per day for women and two for men, might be good for the bones.

Not Exercising Enough– Weight bearing exercise, such as walking, can stimulate bone-building cells.

Risk Factors You Can’t Change

Being a Woman–Women have smaller, less dense bones than men, putting them at a higher risk for osteoporosis.

Having a Small, Thin Frame–Being thin puts you at a greater risk for bone loss. (But heavier people can also get osteoporosis.)

Getting Older–As people age, bones break down faster.

Family History–If osteoporosis runs in your family, you may also have a greater chance of developing it. Genetics play a major role in determining your bone density.

Menopause–Estrogen protects bone density. Menopause causes the production of estrogen to decrease, which can lead to bone loss.

Low Testosterone– Low testosterone levels in men may be related to low bone density and fractures.