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What You Do Now Affects Your Bones Later

People often think of osteoporosis as "an old person's disease." While the possibility of osteoporosis does increase as you age (65 years and up), there are steps you can take now to decrease your risk and strengthen your bones.

Many people don't even realize they have osteoporosis until they break a bone. Osteoporosis, or weak bones, can really affect a person's ability to do everyday things like walking and picking up objects.

It's important for people to realize that their bones are not a hard, lifeless structure, but complex living tissue. Bones are constantly changing, and you build and store bone tissue efficiently until age 30. After that, bones begin to break down faster than new bone is formed because of the aging process. That's why it's so important to do what you can to build a healthy bone mass.

Several factors increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. They are:

Whether you're male or female, here are some steps you can take to reduce bone loss and the risk of developing osteoporosis:

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis is a major public health threat for an estimated 44 million Americans or 55 percent of people 50 years of age and older. In the United States, approximately 10 million people are estimated to already have the disease, and almost 34 million more are estimated to have low bone mass (osteopenia), which places them at increased risk for osteoporosis.

This article originally appeared in UC Health Line (5/09/06), a service of the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center Public Relations Communications Department and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission, 2006.

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Last Reviewed: Sep 03, 2008

Nelson  Watts, MD, FACP, MACE Nelson Watts, MD, FACP, MACE
Professor of Medicine
Director, Bone Health and Osteoporosis Center
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati