Osteoporosis is defined by The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy as being "a generalized, progressive diminution of bone density (bone mass per unit volume), causing skeletal weakness, although the ratio of mineral to organic elements is unchanged". In simpler terms, osteoporosis is a condition where bones become thin, fragile and can break easily. This report will attempt to examine different aspects of the condition by using information found in online resources and in literature released by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Osteoporosis is caused by a degenerative process within the skeletal system. The ACOG pamphlet Preventing Osteoporosis describes the process as such: "Once made, bone is always changing. Old bone is removed in a process called resorption, and new bone is formed in a process called formation. From childhood until age 30, bone is formed faster than it is broken down. The bones become large and more dense. After age 30, the process begins to reverse; bone is broken down faster than it is made. This process continues for the rest of your life. A small amount of bone loss after age 35 is normal in all women and men. It usually does not cause any problems. However, too much bone loss can result in osteoporosis." .
Generally, Caucasian and Asian women over the age of 40 are most likely to get osteoporosis. However, doctors often look for many factors that are likely to increase one's chances of getting the disorder. These risk factors include: being female, being over the age of 40, being a postmenopausal woman, having a diet that is low in calcium, having an intestinal disorder where vitamins are not absorbed, having hyperthyroidism, getting little or no exercise, being thin, taking certain medications, being of Caucasian or Asian decent, high caffeine ingestion, smoking, excessive use of alcohol, having a family history of bone fragility and having a family history of osteoporosis.