5 Factors That Can Increase Your Risk of Osteoporosis

5 Factors That Can Increase Your Risk of Osteoporosis

When it comes to osteoporosis, the bone disease that causes fractures when bones weaken, some risk factors are uncontrollable, like your age and sex. Other factors depend on your lifestyle. 

Approximately 20% of women over the age of 50 have osteoporosis — and that doesn’t count those who are undiagnosed and don’t know they have it. Men get osteoporosis, too, but the percentage isn’t as high. 

Delta Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in West Memphis, Arkansas, and Collierville, Tennessee, offers the highest-quality comprehensive bone care. We’re proud to have Jennifer Childers, PA-C, ambassador for the National Osteoporosis Foundation, and Christy Jones, APRN, care for patients with osteoporosis at both of our offices. 

Following are five of the factors that can increase your risk of osteoporosis. Three of the factors — gender, age, and race — aren’t in your control, but two important risk factors are in your hands. 


Women are almost four times as likely to develop osteoporosis than men. In general, men have larger skeletons than women; they also have greater bone density. Small-boned women are at a greater risk than larger-boned women, in general. 

Women are especially at risk for osteoporosis after menopause. Prior to menopause, the female hormone estrogen is a protective factor for women’s bones. When menopause occurs, the level of estrogen in the female body plummets quickly over a number of months. 

Your body is constantly building up and breaking down bone. You grow new bone tissue and break down old bone tissue over a number of years. After menopause, your body tends to break down more bone than to build it, for a net bone loss that follows the loss of estrogen. 


The older you are, the greater your risk for osteoporosis. You can see signs of aging in your face, hands, and body. What you can’t see is that your bones become thinner and more fragile as you age. Your body isn’t producing as much new bone growth to replace old bone as it did when you were younger. 


Your ethnic background affects your risk of osteoporosis. Caucasian and Asian women have the highest risk. Caucasian men are more at risk than men of other ethnic backgrounds. 

The next two risk factors for osteoporosis are important because they’re within your control. 

Calcium and vitamin D intake 

Do you know how much calcium and vitamin D you’re getting every day? You should. Calcium is necessary for developing and maintaining strong bones. Fortified milk, cheese, and yogurt are good sources of calcium. 

With exposure to sunlight, your body makes vitamin D. Doctors don’t want you to get too much direct sun exposure because of the risk of skin cancer. 

You can get vitamin D from a few foods like fatty fish, and some key foods are fortified with vitamin D, such as cereal and milk. 

If you’re not getting the recommended amount of calcium and vitamin D for your age, be sure to take a supplement. Don’t go overboard, though, because too much can damage organs in your body.

Lifestyle choices: exercise, smoking, and alcohol use 

Do you tend to be a couch potato? It’s time to get up off the couch. Long-term illness that takes you off your feet also places you at increased risk. 

That’s one of the reasons why rehab and exercise programs after stroke or heart attack are important. Weight-bearing exercises such as walking and lifting weights help your bones grow stronger and prevent osteoporosis. 

Smoking and heavy alcohol use are controllable risk factors for osteoporosis. If you smoke, try joining a cessation program. Heavy drinking isn’t only associated with osteoporosis; it’s linked to cancer and other illnesses. That’s a great reason to cut consumption. 

Osteoporosis doesn’t have early warning signs. Call Delta Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine or book an appointment online today to see if you need to be screened for this progressive bone disease. 

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