Enhancing Bone Health in Early Adulthood Can Help Avoid Osteoporosis in Later Years

Northwestern Medicine
Orthopaedics June 12, 2012
X-ray of patient's kneeWhile women are disproportionately affected by osteoporosis, growing evidence suggests that all adults need to take proactive measures for prevention.  Northwestern Medicine® experts say it’s important for men to know their risk too and point to a significant amount of evidence that suggests actions to minimize risk of the disease must occur when patients are in their teens and early adult years in order to boost bone health and prevent bone fragility in later years.
“When most people think of bones, they do not think of them as living and growing organisms; however, this is exactly what they are. Bones are made up of active cells that are constantly replaced and growing,” said Andrew Bunta, MD, vice chairman of the department of orthopaedic surgery Northwestern Memorial Hospital and at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “The reverse is also true, as bones can decrease in density over time due to lack of care.”

Osteoporosis occurs when bone mass is deficient. Risk factors include being female, family history, advanced age, low body weight, sedentary lifestyle choices and insufficient calcium and vitamin D levels. While post-menopausal Caucasian women make up the largest percentage of osteoporosis cases, the disease can affect women of any ethnicity as well as men. More than 10 million Americans have osteoporosis and as many as 40 million more have low bone mass and are at high risk of developing the disease.
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