Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. This leads to bone fragility and increases your risk for fractures. The bone tissue becomes more porous and thinner. These changes weaken the bone, leading to reduced ability of the bone to bear weight. Osteoporosis is the most important cause of fractures in the hip and spine in older adults. These fractures are extremely painful and can cause an increased risk of infection and other illnesses leading to premature death. About 20% of older adults who are suffering a hip fracture die within 1 year after the fracture occurs and death rates are higher for men than for women. Gradual compression fractures in the vertebrae of the upper back lead to shortening and hunching of the spine, also known as kyphosis.
Osteoporosis is a common disease and worldwide one in three women and one in five men over the age of 50 are affected. In the United States, more than 10 million people are diagnosed. Some factors that influence the risk for osteoporosis are age, gender, genetics, nutrition, and physical activity. Modifiable risk factors are smoking, low body weight, low calcium intake, low sun exposure, alcohol abuse, history of amenorrhea, estrogen deficiency, testosterone deficiency, repeated falls, and having a sedentary lifestyle.
Source: Thompson, Janice, Melinda Manore, and Linda A. Vaughan. The Science of Nutrition. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Benjamin Cummings, 2011. Print.