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Osteoporosis is a progressive disease that causes bones to become thin and brittle, making them more likely to break. Both women and men are more likely to have osteoporosis if they fail to reach their optimum bone mineral density during the childhood and teenage years, critical times for building bones.

Osteoporosis is related to the loss of bone mass that occurs as part of the natural process of aging. Although osteoporosis can occur in men, it is most common in women who have gone through menopause.

Not getting adequate calcium—a mineral needed for bone density and strength—and a lack of vitamin D can also contribute to the development of osteoporosis.

Not being physically active can also lead to osteoporosis.

Prevention and treatment of osteoporosis include eating a diet with sufficient calcium and vitamin D, getting regular exercise, quitting smoking, avoiding excess alcohol, and taking medicine to reduce bone loss and increase bone thickness.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerCarla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
Last RevisedNovember 10, 2010

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