Osteoporosis is a progressive disease that affects an individual’s bone structure and causes bone mass and density to decrease, leading to an increased risk of fracture.
Bones are comprised of a living tissue made up of calcium and protein. Healthy bones are constantly being revitalised as small amounts of calcium get absorbed in the body and is then replaced in a cycle of rejuvenation. However, if more bone calcium is absorbed than is being replaced, the density of the mass of the bone is reduced. As this goes on the bone becomes progressively weaker leading to an increased risk of fracture. Bone fracture due to lack of density typically occurs in the hip, spine and wrist.
Osteoporosis is a debilitating disease that can be prevented and treated. If left untreated, Osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. Most people are unaware that they have Osteoporosis until a fracture occurs. The exact medical cause for Osteoporosis is not known, but a number of causes are known to contribute, including physical inactivity, reduced levels of estrogen, heredity, excessive cortisone, excessive thyroid hormone, smoking and excessive alcohol intake. Aging can also contribute to the development of osteoporosis.
Treatment can help reduce and slow bone loss but cannot restore lost bone. That is why building bone mass through adequate calcium intake and exercise when you are young is an investment that will pay off years later with a reduced risk of hip and other fractures.
A gradual loss of bone mass, beginning around age 35, is a fact of life for everyone. After growth is complete, women ultimately lose 30% - 50% of their bone density and men lose 20% - 30%. Women lose bone calcium at an accelerated pace once they go through menopause.