What Is Bone Loss (cont.)
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What Causes Bone Loss?
Bone loss occurs when more bone is resorbed than is formed by the body. Many factors determine how much old bone is resorbed and how much new bone is made. Some factors people have control over (such as diet), but some factors are out of their control (such as age).
Most new bone is added during childhood and teenage years. As a result, bones become larger, heavier, and stronger (denser). Bone formation continues until the peak bone mass (maximum solidness and strength) is reached. Peak bone mass (or bone density) is reached around age 30. After age 30, bone resorption slowly begins to exceed new bone formation. This leads to bone loss. Bone loss in women occurs fastest in the first few years after menopause, but bone loss continues into old age. Factors that can contribute to bone loss include having a diet low in calcium, not exercising, smoking, and taking certain medications such as corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are medications prescribed for a wide range of diseases, including arthritis, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, and other diseases. Corticosteroids may cause osteoporosis when used chronically.
Men are also at risk for bone loss. Even though bone loss usually occurs later in life compared to women, men can still be at high risk for osteoporosis. By age 65, men catch up to women and lose bone mass at the same rate. Additional risk factors such as a small body frame, long-term use of corticosteroids (which are medications prescribed for a wide range of diseases, including arthritis, asthma, Crohn disease, lupus, and other diseases), or low testosterone (or sex hormone) levels can increase the risk of osteoporosis in men.
Bruce A Baethge, MD
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