Women: Higher risk for osteoporosis

The questions you just answered refer to specific risk factors for osteoporosis. Your answers suggest that your bone mineral density (BMD) is likely to be below average, which means you are at higher risk for developing osteoporosis as you age.

Factors that increase the risk for osteoporosis in women include:

  • Being older than 65.
  • Family history (mother, father, or sibling) of osteoporosis or of easily or unexplained broken bones.
  • Lifestyle or environmental factors such as:
    • Smoking.
    • Frequent use of alcohol.
    • Getting little or no weight-bearing exercise.
    • Thin body build.
    • A diet low in foods containing calcium and vitamin D.
  • Decreasing levels of estrogen.
  • Hyperparathyroidism or other conditions that make the body unable to absorb enough calcium.
  • Using medicines such as corticosteroids, aromatase inhibitors, gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, or too much thyroid replacement.
  • Being of European or Asian background.
  • Using anticonvulsant medicines such as carbamazepine.
  • Taking certain antidepressant medicines called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
  • Having certain surgeries, such as having your ovaries removed before menopause.

You may want to talk with your doctor about your risk for osteoporosis.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all women age 65 and older routinely have a bone mineral density test to screen for osteoporosis. If you are at increased risk for fractures caused by osteoporosis, routine screening should begin at age 60.

Last Updated: November 21, 2008

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