Osteoporosis Health Center

Osteoporosis is a condition that involves the thinning of bone tissue and the loss of bone density over time. This causes the bones to become brittle and break easily. In the United States, over 40 million people have osteoporosis or are at a high risk for the condition.

Osteoporosis is more common among women than among men. About 1 out of 5 women over 50 years old have osteoporosis, and an estimated 50 percent will experience a fracture of the hip, wrist or bones of the spine (vertebra).

Osteoporosis occurs when the body does not form enough new bone or if too much old bone is reabsorbed by the body. Most often, this bone loss will happen slowly over time. Many people find out they have osteoporosis only after a bone fracture. Unfortunately, by this time, the disease may already be in its advanced stages and the damage may be severe.

Calcium and phosphate are two minerals that are needed to form bones. Bone production and bone tissues may be harmed if one does not get enough calcium or if the body does not absorb enough calcium from diet. Calcium and phosphate may be reabsorbed from the bones back into the body with age. This makes the bone tissue weaker and may result in brittle, fragile bones that are at greater risk for fractures.

The bones most commonly broken by people with osteoporosis are the hip, spine and the wrist.

Review Date: 
July 2, 2012
Last Updated:
June 2, 2014