Osteoporosis Myths and Facts
See common myths and facts about osteoporosis. Got more questions? Ask our women's health expert.
Myth: Only women are affected by osteoporosis.
Fact: Men get osteoporosis, too. Women naturally have smaller, thinner bones than men, so they are at higher risk. However, 20% of those affected by osteoporosis are men. One in every four men and one in every two women over the age of 50 will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.
Myth: If I drink milk and take calcium supplements, I won't develop osteoporosis.
Fact: Getting enough calcium is important but that alone is not enough to prevent osteoporosis.
Myth: Osteoporosis is a disease of the elderly. Only older people need to worry about it.
Osteoporosis is not a natural part of aging. Prevention of osteoporosis should begin during your youth and young adult life. The opportunity to build strong bones begins then. Make these steps a part of your life: a diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D; weight-bearing exercise; a healthy lifestyle with no smoking or excessive alcohol intake; bone density testing and medications for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis when appropriate.
Myth: There are no particular risk factors for osteoporosis other than age and being female.
Fact: Age is a major risk factor, especially for those over 65. But ,those with the following characteristics also are at risk:
- fair skin (Caucasian or Asian)
- small bone structure
- early menopause or post-menopausal
- family history of osteoporosis
- low body weight
- low-calcium diet
- inactive lifestyle
- excessive alcohol intake
- tobacco use
- eating disorders
- use of certain medications such as steroids or anticonvulsants
Talk to your healthcare provider about your personal risk for osteoporosis.
Myth: You can't tell if you have osteoporosis unless you fall and break a bone.
Fact: A bone density test can give your healthcare provider important information about the strength of your bones and your risk for fracturing a bone in the future. The bone densitometer uses small amounts of X-ray to measure the amount of bone mineral and this relates directly to bone strength.
Myth: A bone density test is painful and complicated.
Fact: This is a simple and comfortable exam. A bone densitometer looks like a large, padded exam table and measures bone density by using a small amount of radiation. You lie on your back, and a scanner passes over your spine and hip area. The test is painless and takes less than 10 minutes.