Causes of Osteoporosis

Your bones live and continuously growing– not static, like you see them attracted books. Bones continuously change throughout your life, with some bone cells dissolving and new bone cells growing back in a process called remodeling. With this lifelong turnover of bone cells, you replace most of your skeleton every 10 years.

But for people with osteoporosis– a thinning of the bones– bone loss exceeds the growth of brand-new bone. Bones end up being porous, fragile, and susceptible to fracture. Take a look at an X-ray of a hip with regular bone density, and you see a thick matrix of bone cells. However take a look at a hip with osteoporosis, and you see mainly air. The bony matrix has all however dissolved, with just a couple of thin strands left.

As many as 10 million Americans have osteoporosis and 34 million more have low bone mass, called osteopenia, states the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Why is bone loss so common? WebMD went to the professionals to find out. The causes of osteoporosis may amaze you.

Osteoporosis and Breakable Bones

Bone density is greatest in your early 20s. However as you age, you can lose bone mass from a variety of elements. Osteoporosis or its early warning sign, osteopenia, indicates an imbalance in the remodeling procedure: Too much bone is broken down, and too little new bone is developed back up. Breakable bones result, vulnerable to fracture.

osteoporosis causes

Osteoporosis happens when there is an imbalance between new bone development and old bone resorption. The body may fail to form enough new bone, or excessive old bone might be reabsorbed, or both.

Main Causes of Osteoporosis in Adults

You most likely understand that you require calcium to build strong bones, but a low-calcium diet isn’t the only perpetrator. There are lesser-known causes of osteoporosis. The professionals now think that a mix of causes is frequently to blame for bone loss.

Causes of Osteoporosis: Low Estrogen in Women

What’s the most typical cause of osteoporosis? “In general, it’s estrogen deficiency in women,” says Paul Mystkowski, MD, an endocrinologist at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle and medical professor of the University of Washington in Seattle. Bone loss accelerates after menopause, when older women have a fast drop in estrogen. Over time, the risk of osteoporosis and fracture increases as older women lose more bone than they replace.

Younger women who stop menstruating– such as thin professional athletes or women with anorexia– also have compromised bone density, states the United States Surgeon General’s most current report, “Bone Health and Osteoporosis.”

Having both ovaries surgically got rid of, called a bilateral oophorectomy, may likewise cause osteoporosis and low bone density. In one study, this surgery caused a 54% increase in hip, spine, and wrist fractures in postmenopausal women.

Causes of Osteoporosis: Low Testosterone in Men

Men require both testosterone and estrogen for bone health. That’s since men convert testosterone into bone-preserving estrogen. “There’s a clear consensus that when you’re assessing men with osteoporosis,” says Mystkowski, “you constantly evaluate for testosterone shortage.”

Other Hormone Imbalances

Several other hormones play a role in managing your bone density, suching as parathyroid hormone and growth hormone. They help orchestrate how well your bones use calcium– when to develop and break down bone.

However too much parathyroid hormone, called hyperparathyroidism, causes calcium loss in the urine at the expense of bone, says Mystkowski. Less calcium indicates weaker bones. And as you age, your body produces less growth hormone, which you need to develop strong bone.

Lack of Calcium

Without calcium, you cannot rebuild new bone during the lifelong process of bone remodeling.

Bones are the tank for two minerals– calcium and phosphorus. You require a consistent level of calcium in your blood since many of your organs, specifically your heart, muscles, and nerves, depend on calcium, according to When these organs require calcium, they’ll steal it from the mineral warehouse in your bones. Over time, as you diminish the mineral tank in your bones, you end up with thin, brittle bones.

Lack of Vitamin D

Too small vitamin D can lead to weak bones and increased bone loss. Active vitamin D, likewise called calcitriol, is more like a hormone than a vitamin, says Mystkowski. Amongst its lots of benefits, vitamin D helps your body to soak up and use calcium.

A Sedentary Lifestyle

Bones deteriorate if they aren’t worked. Keep in mind the early astronauts? They suffered fast bone loss from being weightless in space. For individuals who are inactive or have a condition like paralysis or muscular dystrophy, bone loss occurs quickly. As a cause of osteoporosis, this one’s in your hands. You can help “redesign” your bones with weight-bearing workout, where you’re putting gentle stress on bones.

Thyroid Conditions

High levels of thyroid hormone have long been connected to an increase in bone loss. “That’s constantly been a concern of a lot of physicians,” states Mystkowski, “but if you take a look at the long-term bone densities of patients who are on high dosages of thyroid tablets, they’re not dramatically various, and their fracture risk isn’t really considerably different.”

Still, many medical professionals would agree: anyone on high doses on thyroid hormone can benefit from getting routine exercise and taking enough calcium and vitamin D These lifestyle elements are powerful ways to handle your total fracture risk, together with monitoring bone density with screening.


Cigarette smokers deal with lower bone density and a higher risk of fracture than non-smokers. Research studies on smoking cigarettes and bone health have turned up a host of other alarming impacts, from direct poisonous effects of nicotine on bone cells to blocking the body’s capability to use estrogen, calcium, and vitamin D.


Taking certain medications might lead to bone loss and an increase in bone fractures. Most typical are corticosteroids, likewise referred to as cortisone, hydrocortisone, glucocortisoids, and prednisone. These drugs are used to treat asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, colitis, and a wide variety of other conditions. Antiseizure drugs are linked to bone loss, as well.

Medical Conditions

A host of medical conditions can cause bone loss, from genetic illness like cystic fibrosis to digestive illness to the tumors called multiple myeloma, which infiltrate bones with unusual cells. Irregular calcium excretion also contributes to bone loss. “Some individuals just don’t trap calcium like they should,” says Mystkowski, “and they excrete it through the urine at the expense of the bone.”.


Alcohol can detain bone remodeling and increase your calcium loss. Being sloshed boosts the risk of falling, and with osteoporosis, that implies you’re risking a fracture.

The good news in all this? Your bone health is mostly in your control. Much of the causes of osteoporosis are lifestyle elements you can change– like getting lots of calcium, vitamin D, and weight-bearing workout to construct strong bones. If bone loss is still an issue, ask your doctor about what you can do to remedy any hormone imbalances or other medical causes of bone loss.



Updated: September 7, 2016 — 2:22 am

The Author

Reyus Mammadli

Healthy lifestyle advisor. Bachelor Degree of Medical Equipment and Electronics.
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