Osteoporosis is a thinning and weakening of the bones, usually associated with ageing. The bones hold most of the body’s calcium and the remaining amount circulates for use by other tissues. Bone is constantly breaking down and reforming. With osteoporosis, the amount of calcium present in the bone slowly decreases, causing the bones to become brittle and prone to fracture. Often, the diagnosis of osteoporosis is not made until a bone is broken with only moderate pressure.
People at increased risk include women with an early menopause or with removal of ovaries, women who have never given birth and those who are anorexic. Men at risk include those with decreased testosterone levels due to treatment for cancer. Men and women who have a family history of osteoporosis or who have taken high doses of steroids for long periods are also at risk.