Osteoporosis Causes


The amount of bone mass a person has as a young adult, and the rate at which it is lost with aging, determines one's risk for osteoporosis. In addition to age, gender, family history, certain medical conditions and procedures, lifestyle habits and medication use also play a role.

Osteoporosis is more common in:

  • Women, especially those past menopause or who are elderly
  • Women who go through menopause before age 45 or who have irregular or missed menstrual periods
  • Women who have had their ovaries removed through a hysterectomy
  • Women who don’t exercise regularly, or who exercise so much that menstrual periods stop
  • Men with low levels of testosterone
  • Individuals who are thin or have small body frames
  • Individuals with a family history of osteoporosis, or who are of Caucasian or Asian ancestry
  • Individuals with a history of bone fractures after a minor injury
  • Individuals with an inflammatory form of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus
  • Individuals with a type of spondyloarthropathy, such as ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis, psoriatic arthritis or spondyloarthropathy
  • Individuals who take drugs that reduce bone strength such as corticosteroids (cortisone, prednisone or methylprednisolone), anticonvulsants (anti-seizure medications) or heparin, a blood thinner
  • Individuals with celiac disease (allergy to gluten), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), hyperthyroidism, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or multiple myeloma (bone marrow cancer)
  • Individuals who have had bariatric surgery
  • Individuals who have thyroid or parathyroid disease
  • Individuals who smoke
  • Individuals who drink three or more alcoholic beverages a day
  • Individuals with a history of anorexia nervosa or other eating disorders
  • Individuals who have had long periods of immobility or bed rest

People who have one or more of these risk factors should talk to a doctor about ways to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and whether a bone density test is needed.