Osteoporosis, which means "porous bone," is a disease in which the bones gradually become weak and brittle. The condition often results in broken bones, or fractures, especially of the hip, wrist, and spine, even from simple activities like lifting a chair or bending over. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 34 million Americans have osteoporosis. Another 18 million have low bone mass and are at an increased risk for the disease. Osteoporosis is common among the elderly, but the disease can strike at any age. Although it is more common in older women, men can also develop osteoporosis. One of every 2 women and 1 in every 4 men older than 50 years of age will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.

Osteoporosis is a potentially crippling disease. Fortunately, most Americans can avoid osteoporosis altogether by eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, and living a healthy lifestyle. Such lifestyle strategies are important for young people, too, because you accumulate about 85 to 90% of your bone mass by age 18 or 20. In fact, some experts call osteoporosis a pediatric disorder with consequences for the elderly.

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Review Date: 3/24/2015  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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