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(ŏs'tēō'pərō`sĭs), disorder in which the normal replenishment of old bone tissue is severely disrupted, resulting in weakened bones and increased risk of fracture; osteopenia results when bone-mass loss is significant but not as severe as in osteoporosis. Although osteoporosis can occur in anyone, it is most common in thin white women after menopausemenopause
or climacteric
, transitional phase in a woman's life when the ovaries stop releasing eggs, ovarian production of estrogen and other hormones tapers off, and menstruation ceases.
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Bone mass is typically at its greatest during a person's mid-twenties; after that point there is a gradual reduction in bone mass as bone is not replenished as quickly as it is resorbed. In postmenopausal women the production of estrogenestrogen
, any one of a group of hormones synthesized by the reproductive organs and adrenal glands in females and, in lesser quantities, in males. The estrogens cause the thickening of the lining of the uterus and vagina in the early phase of the ovulatory, or menstrual, cycle
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, a hormonehormone,
secretory substance carried from one gland or organ of the body via the bloodstream to more or less specific tissues, where it exerts some influence upon the metabolism of the target tissue.
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 that helps maintain the levels of calcium and other minerals necessary for normal bone regeneration, drops off dramatically, resulting in an accelerated loss of bone mass of up to 3% per year over a period of five to seven years. Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and a sedentary lifestyle increase the risk of bone-mass loss; a diet high in protein and sodium also speed calcium loss. The disorder also has a genetic component. A vitamin D receptor gene that affects calcium uptake and bone density has been identified, and the different forms of this gene appear to correlate with differences in levels of bone density among osteoporosis patients.

Osteoporosis has no early symptoms and is usually not diagnosed until a fracture occurs, typically in the hip, spine, or wrist. A diagnostic bone density test is thus recommended as a preventive measure for women at high risk. Treatment can slow the process or prevent further bone loss. Estrogen replacement therapy for postmenopausal women is effective but has potential side effects. Calcitonin, a thyroid hormone, is administered in some cases. Nonhormonal drugs for the treatment of osteoporosis include alendronate (Fosamax) and risedronate (Actonel), bisphosphonates that decrease bone resorption, and raloxifene (Evista), a selective estrogen receptor modulator that can increase bone mineral density. Teriparatide (Forteo), which consists of the biologically active region of human parathyroid hormone, stimulates the activity of osteoblasts, the specialized cells that form new bone. Dietary and supplemental calcium and vitamin D are usually recommended for people at risk, but a seven-year study of more than 36,000 women over 50 that was released in 2006 found that supplements conferred little benefit. Exercise, including weight training, has been found to strengthen bones directly and to improve muscle strength and balance and thus minimize the chance of falls.


See M. Hegsted, Advances in Nutrition Research, Vol. 9: Nutrition and Osteoporosis (1994).



a thinning of the cancellous and cortical layers of bone as a result of partial bone resorption. Osteoporosis is not an independent disease but a condition that results from local or systemic metabolic disorders. It often occurs in osteomyelitis, Itsenko-Cushing’s disease, inflammatory diseases of the joints, and traumas—especially fractures—in which major blood vessels and nerves are injured. Osteoporosis also frequently arises with frostbite, burns, nervous-system lesions (including poliomyelitis), and toxic conditions (for example, the late stages of cancer). It can arise as a side effect of prednisolone treatment.

Osteoporosis can be detected only by roentgenography. It can be local, regional, disseminated, or systemic and arises in spots or uniform patches. Osteoporosis usually subsides once the underlying disease is cured but does not completely disappear until the function of the affected portion is completely restored. Anabolic hormones are used to treat the disease.


Deossification with absolute decrease in bone tissue, resulting in enlargement of marrow and Haversian spaces, decreased thickness of cortex and trabeculae, and structural weakness.


porosity and brittleness of the bones due to loss of calcium from the bone matrix
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Long-term HRT can still be considered for the prevention of osteoperosis and bone fractures, and for better quality of life (e.g.
How likely are you to get osteoperosis? Evaluate your risk: The checklist below contains a list of items that are associated with risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
The program's launch coincided with National Osteoperosis Prevention month in May.
For example, in reporting the results of a study on osteoperosis treatment in 1996, three major TV networks all said that the new drug could cut the incidence of hip fracture in half, a benefit that one reporter declared "absolutely miraculous." Unreported was the fact that the incidence of hip fracture was very low in the first place--only two percent among patients who did not receive the drug.
So far, the FDA has rejected every nutrient/disease claim except the link between calcium and prevention of osteoperosis, and approval for that claim came nearly a decade after the National Institutes of Health confirmed the connection.
The current interest in preventing the symptoms of osteoperosis is a good example of how a highly publicized medical issue can influence an entire industry.
And despite numerous trips to the doctors, it took a quarter of a century of suffering and the onset of osteoperosis and osteoarthritis - which has led to repeated broken bones - before a sympathetic doctor ordered tests which led to her diagnosis.