Osteoporosis Risk Factors

Find out if you might be at risk for osteoporosis.

Also See Osteoporosis Care

Who Should Get Screened for Osteoporosis?

  • Women aged 65 and older
  • Men aged 70 and older
  • Anyone 50 or older who has had a fracture or risk factor (see below)
  • Women going through menopause who have low body weight, prior fracture from a fall from a standing position or lower, and/or are on high-risk medications.

Osteoporosis Risk Factors

  • White and Asian women ages 50 and over. While men and women of all races can develop osteoporosis, post-menopausal white and Asian women are at the highest risk.
  • Men with low testosterone levels. Testosterone helps keep bones strong.
  • Smokers and heavy drinkers (more than two drinks a day on most days).
  • Anyone who weighs less than 125 pounds. Petite adults have a smaller frame and lower peak bone mass; therefore, any loss of bone with age is more likely to result in a lower-than-normal bone mineral density.
  • People who have undergone bariatric surgery.
  • Anyone with a parent who suffered a hip fracture as a senior.
  • People with kidney failure, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, liver disease or an eating disorder.
  • People who take oral corticosteroids on a daily basis or other high-risk medications (e.g., thyroid hormone replacement, immunosuppressant drugs, warfarin).

Women and Osteoporosis

The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that half of all women over the age of 50 will eventually develop osteoporosis and that 80 percent of Americans with osteoporosis are women.

Women also sustain 75 to 80 percent of all hip fractures. For older people, a hip fracture often marks the end of independent living and admission into a nursing home.

Osteoporosis is a threat to an aging woman’s ability to live an independent, self-directed life.

Why Women Are At Greater Risk

  • On average, women are smaller than men and have a lower peak bone mass.
  • Women live longer than men. Age is a risk factor for incurring an osteoporotic fracture.
  • Estrogen helps the body maintain healthy bones. Declines in estrogen levels during and after menopause can accelerate women’s bone loss.

Men and Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis has been considered a “women’s disease,” but 20 to 25 percent of all hip fractures occur in men. As the U.S. population ages, more senior men are expected to become affected by osteoporosis.

A study by UC San Diego School of Medicine researchers of osteoporosis in older men examined the risk factors for osteoporosis, fractures and prostate cancer in 5,995 men ages 65 and older.

Among the study’s findings:

  • Rib fractures are the most common clinical fracture in senior men.
  • Men with diabetes who are using insulin are at increased risk of fractures not related to the spine.
  • Loss of height is a risk factor and marker for osteoporosis in men.
  • Lower than normal testosterone levels in men are associated with greater fragility and vulnerability to fractures.

Osteoporosis Locations