Bone osteoporosis is a degenerative disorder in which the bones lose density, leading to an increased risk of fracture. It occurs when bone resorption, or the breakdown of bone tissue, and bone formation are not balanced. Both are normal processes in the body throughout life, but when there is excess bone resorption, or inadequate bone formation, osteoporosis is the result. There are many causes and risk factors for bone osteoporosis, some of which can be addressed through lifestyle changes.
Osteoporosis most commonly affects post-menopausal women. Age, family history of the disease, and sex are all significant risk factors. However, nearly anyone can develop bone osteoporosis. It can be caused by lifestyle choices, other diseases, and certain medications.
Bone osteoporosis can be caused by excessive use of alcohol or tobacco, and by poor diet. A deficiency in calcium or vitamin D is a common risk factor, but insufficient amounts of other nutrients like boron, copper, fluoride, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E and K can also cause osteoporosis. A diet excessively high in sodium or protein is another potential cause. Both too little and too much physical activity, including immobilization after injury or surgery, can lead one to develop osteoporosis. Exposure to heavy metals like cadmium and lead is another important risk factor.
Bone osteoporosis can be a secondary condition of a number of diseases. Gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn's disease and lactose intolerance can cause dietary problems that lead to the development of osteoporosis. Diseases and conditions in which the kidneys, liver, endocrine glands, or gonads (ovaries or testes) perform insufficiently can also lead to bone osteoporosis. Rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatic disorders are another potential cause, along with a number of inherited disorders, including osteogenesis imperfecta and porphyria.
Glucocorticoid steroids are one of the most common medications to cause osteoporosis. Other pharmaceutical causes include barbiturates and antiepileptics, protein pump inhibitors prescribed to reduce stomach acid, and anticoagulants used to prevent blood clots. Drugs that inhibit the performance of the gonads or the thyroid gland can also lead to osteoporosis. Bone osteoporosis can also be caused by lithium, used to treat bipolar disorder and similar psychiatric conditions, and thiazolidinediones, used to treat diabetes.