Osteoporosis Affects One Out of Every Two Women

(ARA) - A major public health threat affecting almost 28 million Americans, osteoporosis is a quiet danger. In the United States today, 10 million individuals already have osteoporosis, and 18 million more have low bone mass, which places them at an increased risk for developing the disease.

Osteoporosis can strike at any age, and affects both men and women. However, one out of every two women, as opposed to one in eight men, will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), a woman's risk of hip fracture is equal to her risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer combined.

Osteoporosis literally means "porous bones." Healthy bones are made up of a thick outer shell and a strong inner mesh that looks like a honeycomb. The inner mesh contains blood vessels and bone marrow in the spaces between the bone. Osteoporosis occurs when the holes between bone become bigger, making it fragile and more likely to break. If not prevented or left untreated, the disease can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. The whole skeleton is usually affected, but fractures typically occur in the hip, spine and wrist.

The NOF has identified the following risk factors for osteoporosis:

  • Women are at greater risk because they have less bone tissue to begin with and lose bone more rapidly than men because of the changes involved in menopause. Small, thin boned women are at an even greater risk.
  • Age also matters. As you age your bones become less dense and weaker.
  • There is evidence that Caucasian and Asian women are at greater risk than African-American and Latino women.
  • Family history may also play a role. People with a history of fractures in their families seem to have reduced bone mass.


The time to start thinking about osteoporosis prevention is now. According to the NOF there are some things that women can do every day to help ensure that they will continue to build strong, new bone tissue as they get older.

  • Calcium: An inadequate supply of calcium over a lifetime is thought to play a significant role in the development of osteoporosis. Adult women (ages 19 to 50) need 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day, the equivalent of drinking three 8-ounce glasses of milk. Good sources of calcium include low fat dairy products like cheese, yogurt and skim milk. Getting enough calcium can be difficult for many women who are juggling hectic work and family schedules. A good meal option is Lean Cuisine Macaroni and Cheese, which contains as much calcium as an 8-ounce glass of milk. Made with aged cheddar and fresh pasta, it not only tastes delicious, but is a nutritious entrée.
  • Another preventive measure is exercise. Like muscle, bone is living tissue that will become stronger the more it is exposed to exercise. Weight-bearing exercise (working against gravity) such as walking, hiking, jogging, stair climbing, weight-training, tennis and dancing is recommended as the best for maintaining healthy bones.

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Courtesy of ARA Content