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Osteoporosis is the condition of progressive loss of bone strength. This results in thin, brittle, and weak bones. The weaker the bones become, the greater the risk of bone fractures. As women age, major bone fractures can result in loss of independent life and can accelerate death.

This condition can occur in men and women, but is five times greater in women. There are several risk factors including autoimmune diseases, high caffeine intake, excess use of antacids, alcohol, inactivity, smoking, family history of hip fractures, and being too thin.

Starting just before menopause and lasting a few years after menopause, there is an acceleration of bone loss thought to be due to lower levels of estrogen and progesterone. Often, there are no symptoms to these osteoporotic changes so screening is valuable.


Bone mineral density testing measures several parts of the body for bone strength. The most common is the DEXA scan. This is recommended for women in menopause and by the age of 65 years. In women over 50 with the above risk factors, it is encouraged. The test is a special, painless X-ray of the body taken while lying down. The scan takes just a few minutes, and the radiation levels are low.

DEXA results are interpreted in comparison to ideal bone density (a women in her 30s) and to other women of the same age.

From the bone density screening, a FRAX risk is calculated to assess the risk of hip and major bone fracture in the next 10 years. If the risk is high, medication and behavior changes can be recommended to lower the risk of fractures.

How to Prevent Bone Loss

Before getting to menopause, regular exercise, a healthy diet, and avoiding smoking helps prevent osteoporosis. Aim for 150 minutes of exercise per week. It is valuable to include resistance exercise in your regimen. This would mean using your own weight, exercise bands, or handheld weights to create the resistance in the exercise.

It is important to eat calcium rich foods, such as dark leafy greens, dairy (if tolerated), and fish. A vitamin D supplement is helpful to bone health and can be obtained from sources such as a woman's multivitamin or exposure to sunlight, for as little as 15 minutes a few days per week.

Bone health is important for your quality of life. Screening and care can make a big impact on your well-being as you age.

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