Osteoporosis is a bone-thinning disease. With this disease, your bones lose mass and tissue. It leads to bone fractures, especially in the wrist, hip and spine. People often don't know they have the disease until they break a bone.

These individuals are more likely to develop osteoporosis:

  • Female
  • White/Caucasian
  • Have been through menopause
  • Older adults
  • Small in body size
  • Eating a diet low in calcium
  • Physically inactive
  • Use alcohol and tobacco

The disease affects 28 million Americans, 80 percent of whom are women. One and a half million Americans will suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture this year; one out of two women and one out of eight men will have a fracture caused by osteoporosis in their lifetime.

Many people think osteoporosis happens to everyone as they get older. However, you can prevent the disease by eating a diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D, exercising, not smoking and limiting the amount of alcohol you drink.

Experts say most women do not drink enough milk or eat enough dairy products to get the recommended amount of calcium. Teenage girls need between 1,200 and 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day, and adult women ages 20-50 need about 1000 milligrams a day. Good sources of calcium include:

  • Dairy products—low fat or nonfat milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Dark green leafy vegetables—bok choy and broccoli
  • Calcium fortified foods—orange juice, cereal, bread, soy beverages, and tofu products
  • Nuts—almonds

Do you need a bone density test? A bone density test shows the amount of bone a person has in the hip, spine or other bones. It is recommended for women who have been through menopause or men age 50 and older. Talk to your doctor about whether you need a bone density test.

What can you do about osteoporosis? There is no cure for the disease, but you can slow it down or even rebuild some of your bone loss. Treatments include medicines, exercise and getting enough Vitamin D and calcium. Talk to your doctor about the treatment that is right for you.

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