Osteoporosis, which means "porous bones," or bones full of holes, is a disease that makes bones weak and easy to break. Bones become dense and strong while we're young but as we get older, women especially start to lose bone mass, which can cause osteoporosis, which can lead to:

  • Broken bones, especially hips, wrists, and the spine
  • Pain
  • Body changes, such as a humped back
  • Being less active and independent

Women are most at risk for osteoporosis as 4 out of 5 people with osteoporosis are women. Osteoporosis becomes an increasingly greater probability if they:

  • Are white or Asian
  • Are small in body size
  • Eat a diet low in calcium
  • Are not physically active
  • Have a family history of bone fractures
  • Drink excessively or smoke
  • Stop having their period or don't get it very often while they are young

It is uncommon, but young women (even teens) can have osteoporosis. Usually, this is caused by poor nutrition and/or exercising too much, (which can cause a young woman to stop getting her period, affecting hormones in the body that can weaken bones).
Whether young or old, most people do not know they have osteoporosis until they've broken a bone, which is often caused by a fall or strain. A test, called a bone density test, can determine if someone has osteoporosis or is at risk. This test is only used for people at high risk for osteoporosis, such as older people.

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