Osteoporosis - the Bone Thief
Helen grew up on a farm in the
country. She drank lots of milk as a child. She also walked
a lot. After graduating from high school, she got married
and found a job. Family and work kept her too busy to
exercise. Helen went through menopause at age 47. At age 76,
she was enjoying retirement — travelling and working in her
garden. But then she slipped on a small rug in her kitchen
and broke her hip. After Helen recovered, she needed a cane
to walk, and gardening was a lot harder to enjoy.
Helen had osteoporosis, but she
didn’t know it before she fell. Osteoporosis is a disease
that weakens bones to the point where they break easily—most
often bones in the hip, backbone (spine), and wrist.
Osteoporosis is called the “silent disease”—you may not
notice any changes until a bone breaks. But your bones have
been losing strength for many years.
Bone is living tissue. To keep bones
strong, your body is always breaking down old bone and
replacing it with new bone tissue. As people enter their
forties and fifties, more bone is broken down than is
replaced. A close look at the inside of bone shows something
like a honeycomb. When you have osteoporosis, the spaces in
this honeycomb grow larger. And the bone that forms the
honeycomb gets smaller. The outer shell of your bones also
gets thinner. All this loss makes your bones weaker.
Who Has Osteoporosis?
Millions across developed countries
have osteoporosis. They are mostly women, but more men also
have this disease. White and Asian women are most likely to
have osteoporosis. Other women at great risk include those
have a family history of the
have broken a bone while an
had surgery to remove their
ovaries before their periods stopped,
had early menopause,
have not gotten enough calcium
throughout their lives,
had extended bed rest,
used certain medicines for a long
have a small body frame.
The risk of osteoporosis grows as you
get older. At the time of menopause women may lose bone
quickly for several years. After that, the loss slows down,
but continues. In men the loss of bone mass is slower. But,
by age 65 or 70 men and women are losing bone at the same
Source: National Institute on Aging
Part 1: Osteoporosis - The Bone Thief
Part 2: Osteoporosis - How Can I Keep My Bones Strong?
Part 3: What Can I Do About My Osteoporosis?
Part 4: How Can I Keep From Falling?
Part 5: Men and Osteoporosis