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Osteoporosis is a condition of decreased bone strength that leaves the bones susceptible to fracture. Both the density of the bone and the quality of the bone structure are compromised in osteoporosis. The word osteoporosis literally means bone ("osteo") that is porous or filled with holes ("porosis").
Bone is a living tissue; its cells die and are replaced regularly. As a child and young adult, your body produces more new cells than those that die, resulting in stronger, denser bones. You reach your peak bone mass at about age 25. Your bone turnover remains fairly stable for several years. Then at about age 40, bone cells start to die at a more rapid rate than cells are produced. This starts a slow decline in bone mass. After menopause, a drop in estrogen levels in women results in a rapid decline in bone mass. By the age of 80, women have lost about 40 percent of their peak adult bone mass and men have lost about 25 percent.
Postmenopausal white women are most commonly affected by osteoporosis and are most likely to suffer an osteoporotic fracture. These fractures can occur from seemingly minor falls and from such mundane activities as bending and lifting.
The best treatment for osteoporosis is to prevent osteoporosis. Preventing osteoporosis starts in childhood by building bone mass. If that time has passed for you, there are ways that you can slow the rate of bone loss and ways that you can minimize your risk of fractures.