Osteoporosis is a disease that causes
bones to become more porous, gradually making them weaker and more
brittle. ("Osteo" means bone; "porosis" means
porous.) Our bodies go through a continuous bone-building cycle, in
which old bone is broken down and new bone is formed. Osteoporosis
is caused by an imbalance in this cycle, in which too much bone is
broken down and not completely built.
Today, an estimated 28 million
Americans have or are at risk of osteoporosis – 80 percent are
women. Yet only a relatively small number of men and women with
osteoporosis have been diagnosed or treated.
Few women and men experience symptoms in the early stages of this
bone-thinning disease. Also, many women and men believe that if they
simply watch their diet and exercise regularly, they won’t be
Signs and symptoms
Early on, osteoporosis is a silent
disease, so you may not see any signs.
Eventually, it can lead to broken bones or the disfiguring
"dowager’s hump" in some women. The good news is, if
osteoporosis is detected early enough, its effects may be prevented.