There are some risk factors of deteriorating bone health that you can change and some that you cannot change,
Risk factors that you cannot change include:
Age – As you age, you are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis – a disease in which your bones become less dense and can break more easily.
Body size – If you have a small build with thin bones, you are at greater risk.
Ethnicity – Asian and Caucasian women are at the highest risk, while African American and Hispanic women have a lower but still significant risk.
Family history – If your parents have a history of reduced bone mass and fractures, your risk is greater to follow in their footsteps.
Gender – Women have a greater chance of developing osteoporosis.
Risk factors you can change, according to the NIH, include:
Active lifestyle – Being inactive can weaken bones, however, overtraining to the point that you are burning far more calories than your body takes in can be harmful to your bone health.
Alcohol consumption – Drinking alcohol excessively can increase your risk of bone loss and fractures.
Anorexia nervosa – This eating disorder includes an irrational fear of weight gain and can lead to osteoporosis.
Calcium and vitamin D – Making sure you have a diet rich in these – especially when you are younger and can strengthen your bones – will improve bone health.
Cigarette smoking – Quitting is the best option because smoking is bad for your bones.
Medication – Using some kinds of medications including glucocorticoids and some anticonvulsants over a long period of time can lead to loss of bone density.
Sex hormones – An abnormal absence of menstrual periods and low estrogen levels in women can lead to osteoporosis.
Taking positive steps to improve the risk factors that you can change is your best defense against deteriorating bone health.
Aging and Bone Loss
As you age, your body may reabsorb calcium and phosphate from your bones instead of keeping these minerals in your bones. This makes your bones weaker. When this process reaches a certain stage, it is called osteoporosis.
Your body may not make enough new bone if:
You do not eat enough high-calcium foods
Your body does not absorb enough calcium from the foods you eat
Your body removes more calcium than normal in the urine
Certain habits can affect your bones.
Drinking alcohol. Too much alcohol can damage your bones. It can also put you at risk of falling and breaking a bone.
Smoking. Men and women who smoke have weaker bones. Women who smoke after menopause have an even higher chance of fractures.
Younger women who do not have menstrual periods for a long time also have a higher risk of bone loss and osteoporosis.
Low body weight is linked to less bone mass and weaker bones.
Medical Disorders and Bone Loss
Many long-term (chronic) medical conditions can keep people confined to a bed or chair.
This keeps the muscles and bones in their hips and spines from being used or bearing any weight.
Not being able to walk or exercise may lead to bone loss and fractures.
Other medical conditions that may also lead to bone loss are:
Chronic kidney disease
Overactive parathyroid gland
Sometimes, medicines that treat certain medical conditions can cause osteoporosis. Some of these are:
Hormone-blocking treatments for prostate cancer or breast cancer
Some medicines that are used to treat seizures or epilepsy
Glucocorticoid (steroid) medicines, if they are taken by mouth every day for more than 3 months, or are taken several times a year
Any treatment or condition that causes calcium or vitamin D to be poorly absorbed can also lead to weak bones. Some of these are:
Gastric bypass (weight-loss surgery)
Other conditions that prevent the small intestine from absorbing nutrients well
People with eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia, are also at higher risk for osteoporosis.
People with strong risk factors for osteoporosis should have a BMD test. Risk factors include the following:
Estrogen deficiency from early menopause (age 1 year), or hypogonadism (impaired gonads, which are the ovaries or testes, or impaired sex hormones, which are estrogen or testosterone)
Long-term corticosteroid or anticonvulsant (antiseizure) drug therapy
Family history of hip fracture
Low body mass index (BMI)
Chronic disorders associated with osteoporosis, such as anorexia nervosa or liver disease
Previous broken bones related to having weak bones
Loss of height (widow’s hump)
Asian or white race
Poor diet without enough calcium
Lack of exercise
Regular use of large amounts of alcohol