Understanding Osteoporosis


More than 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, a chronic, progressive disease characterized by low bone mass, bone deterioration and bone fragility that results in an increased risk of bone fracture. Up to 50% of women and 20% of men have had a fracture related to osteoporosis in their lifetime, particularly those of White or Asian race. However, osteoporosis affects all races to some degree. Bone fractures linked to osteoporosis are associated with increased risk of disability, nursing home placement, total health care costs, and death. Those who suffer a hip fracture, especially, run a 20-24% greater risk of death within a year of the incident. (Source)

Risk factors for osteoporosis include

  • Excessive alcohol use (>4 drinks per day for men; >2 drinks per day for women)
  • Excessive caffeine intake (>2.5 cups of coffee — or equivalent — per day)
  • Smoking
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Inactivity
  • Low body weight
  • Low calcium or Vitamin D intake
  • Low level of physical activity — especially a lack of weight bearing activity such as walking, running or dancing
  • Personal history of bone fracture
  • White or Asian race

Prevent or slow the progression of osteoporosis

If you are at risk of osteoporosis or have been diagnosed, there is much you can do to improve your health. The information contained here is for information only, not a substitute for regular health care appointments with your provider. If you are at risk of bone fracture or in poor health, please see your provider to develop a safe plan to meet your health goals.

  1. Increase activity. Participate in regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises which are important for maintaining strong bones and muscles. Examples of weight-bearing exercise include jogging, hiking, brisk walking, jump rope and tennis.  Muscle strengthening exercises include activities such as weight lifting, stair climbing, toe raises and weight machines at local gyms.
  2. Eat vitamin rich foods. To build strong bones, your body needs the right nutrients. A diet rich in calcium, vitamin D and protein provide the foundation for good bone health. Most people know the slogan, “Milk, it does a body good.” As adults, though, few consume enough milk for strong bones. Add these bone-healthy, nutrient rich foods to your regular diet to improve bone health naturally: leafy green vegetables (kale, broccoli), apricots, sardines, almonds, yogurt and cheese (pay attention to portions as cheese is high in fat).
  3. Know your risk factors. The first step to improved health, including improved bone density, begins when you know your risk factors. The “World Osteoporosis Day” organization has developed a one-minute risk factor quiz you can take online to determine your risks. Take the quiz and raise any concerns with your doctor at a medical visit: One-Minute Osteoporosis Risk Factor Quiz.
  4. Eliminate risk factors. Smoking, excessive alcohol and excessive caffeine all increase the risk of osteoporosis. Similarly, being underweight (a body mass index or BMI under 20) is also a risk factor for osteoporosis. Cut back on smoking, alcohol and caffeine intake to see improved bone health. If underweight, add nutrient dense food to your diet for better health.
  5. Develop a health plan with your doctor. As a PCMH practice, we want to work with you to achieve the best health outcomes possible. Together, we can identify and develop a plan for better health!

Tools to learn more

Please contact your provider to discuss your osteoporosis concerns and develop a health care plan for the long term.