Understanding the Risks of Developing Osteoporosis

Understanding the Risks of Developing Osteoporosis

If you don’t have osteoporosis, chances are you don’t think much about it. However, anyone can develop this condition — which causes bones to become brittle — and your chances of getting it can increase with age. 

In this blog, Kenneth Varley, MD, of Southern Pain Specialists in Birmingham, Alabama, discusses the risk factors for developing osteoporosis and how you can help keep your bones strong.

What is osteoporosis?

An age-related disease, osteoporosis involves the progressive degeneration of your bones. Most people stop acquiring new bone mass around age 30, and from that point on, your body may lose more bone mass than it produces.

If your body keeps losing bone mass faster than it can remodel bone tissue, you may develop osteoporosis, or low bone density, which will make your bones brittle and prone to fractures.

Effects of osteoporosis on the body

Osteoporosis develops gradually, and many people miss the early signs — such as weakening grip strength and progressively stooped posture — because of the gradual nature of the condition. However, if osteoporosis continues, it can lead to many complications, such as:

  1. Bone fractures, especially in the hips and spine
  2. Compression fractures in the spine
  3. Increased risk of falling
  4. Body aches and pains
  5. Osteoarthritis
  6. Reduced mobility 
  7. Loss of functional independence
  8. Depression
  9. Disability

Risk factors for developing osteoporosis

Age is the primary risk factor for developing osteoporosis, as it’s a degenerative condition that progresses with age. However, many other factors can influence your risk for developing osteoporosis, including: 

Biological sex

Females are much more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. 


White and Asian people tend to have a higher risk for developing osteoporosis than people of other races. 

Body size

People with petite frames may have a higher risk for developing osteoporosis, because they have less bone mass overall. 

Family history

If you have immediate family members with osteoporosis, you’re more likely to get it than someone who doesn’t have a family history of the condition.

Lack of exercise

Sedentary living is known to contribute to developing osteoporosis.

Nutrient deficiencies

Low calcium and vitamin D intake can contribute to weak bones.

Alcohol and tobacco use

Excessive consumption can increase your risk for developing osteoporosis.

Certain medications and medical conditions

Ask your doctor if your medication or condition can increase your risk for developing osteoporosis.

Hormonal imbalances

Osteoporosis occurs more in people who have low levels of certain hormones, such as the sex hormones.

Reduce your risk for developing osteoporosis

Some of the above risk factors aren’t modifiable, such as your family history and race. However, several osteoporosis risk factors are modifiable, and you can mitigate your risk by focusing on them. 

Here are a few practices you can implement to help reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis: 

  1. Reduce or eliminate your consumption of alcohol and tobacco
  2. Exercise regularly, especially weight-bearing exercise and resistance training
  3. Eat a diet rich in essential nutrients
  4. See your doctor regularly to evaluate your risk factors, such as your hormone levels and medications.
  5. Choose dietary supplements that include 1,200 mg of calcium, and 1,000-2,000 units of Vitamin D3 every day.