Risk factors

Bones become thinner and weaker as we age – the older you are, the greater the risk of developing osteoporosis. Any number of factors can affect your bone health:

  • Calcium affects bone health. A low calcium diet contributes to diminished bone density, early bone loss and an increased risk of fractures.
  • People who are physically inactive and do not participate in weight-bearing activities have a higher risk of osteoporosis.
  • Research suggests that tobacco use contributes to weak bones.
  • Women are at a greater risk of osteoporosis because they have less bone tissue than men. Their bones become thinner and weaker as they age.
  • People of Caucasian or Asian descent are at greatest risk of osteoporosis.
  • Low body mass index (BMI) of 19 or less, and if you’re extremely thin or have a small body frame, increases the risk for bone loss.
  • Thyroid hormone can cause bone loss. In women, bone loss increases dramatically at menopause due to a drop in estrogen levels.
  • People who have anorexia or bulimia are at risk of bone loss.
  • Long-term use of corticosteroid medications such as prednisone, cortisone, prednisolone and dexamethasone are damaging to bone. Other drugs that may increase the risk of osteoporosis include aromatase inhibitors to treat breast cancer, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, methotrexate, some anti-seizure medications and proton pump inhibitors.