IN THIS ARTICLE
In a normal, healthy adult, bone is continually absorbed into the body and then rebuilt. During childhood and the teen years, new bone tissue is added faster than existing bone is absorbed. As a result, your bones become larger and heavier until about age 30 when you reach peak bone mass (density). The more bone mass you developed early in life, the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis.
After age 30, both men and women lose a small amount of bone each year. Because most men build greater bone mass than women do, they tend to get osteoporosis later in life.
A person with thinning bones may be diagnosed with lower-than-normal bone mass (osteopenia). Osteopenia sometimes progresses to osteoporosis.
When bones thin, they lose strength and break more easily. The bones that break most often due to osteoporosis are:
In women, bone loss increases when the ovaries reduce production of estrogen, a hormone that protects against bone loss.
In men, the hormone testosterone protects against bone loss. Osteoporosis develops most often in men older than 65.
See a picture of healthy bone versus bone weakened by osteoporosis.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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