Osteoporosis at a Glance



Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become thin, weak, and fracture (break) easily. You cannot feel or see your bones getting thinner. Although you can break a bone in any part of your body, the most common broken bones associated with osteoporosis are the spine, wrist, and hip. Anybody of any age and race can get osteoporosis, but some people are more likely to get it. For example, almost half of all White or Asian women over age 50 living in the United States will break a bone because of osteoporosis. Men also get osteoporosis with 1 in 4 expected to break a bone after age 50. A broken bone can be very serious. It can cause pain, stop you from working, and prevent you from doing the things you enjoy.


Do you want healthy bones for a lifetime? It is never too early or too late for you to take steps for have strong bones. Steps for strong bones that may reduce your risk for osteoporosis and broken bones include:

  • Eating a well-balanced diet including the recommended calcium and vitamin D
  • Being physically active (for example: walking, dancing, and golfing)
  • Not smoking Limiting alcohol intake Taking safety precautions to prevent falls




Calcium From Food First

The best way to get calcium is from the food you eat. Foods rich in calcium are often packed with other bone-healthy nutrients, too!

If you include a calcium rich food or beverage at each meal, you are likely to get all of the calcium you need. If not, speak to your health care provider to find out if a calcium supplement is right for you.


Knowing your risk factors is the first step in taking an active role to promote better bone health. Listed below are some of the risk factors for osteoporosis. The more risk factors you check, the greater your risk for osteoporosis.

  • I am a woman older than 65 or a man older than 70.
  • I am White or Asian.
  • I am underweight for my height.
  • I am a woman who has reached menopause (change of life).
  • A close relative has osteoporosis or has broken a bone.
  • I have broken a bone after age 50.
  • I have lost more than 11/2 inches of height or have stooped posture.
  • I rarely exercise.
  • I rarely get enough calcium.
  • I smoke.
  • I have more than two drinks of alcohol several times a week.
  • I take steroid medications.
  • I have rheumatoid arthritis, an overactive thyroid, celiac disease, Type 1 diabetes or other chronic diseases.

This is not a complete list of the risk factors for osteoporosis. To find out about additional risk factors for osteoporosis, contact NYSOPEP or visit the NYSOPEP website:


A bone mineral density (BMD) test is a quick and painless minimal radiation X-ray that measures the thickness of your bones. It can help you find out if you have osteoporosis. Talk to your health care provider to find out if you should have a BMD test. In general, BMD testing is recommended for the following people:

  • All women aged 65 or older
  • All men aged 70 or older
  • Women under age 65 who have reached menopause and have risk factors for osteoporosis
  • Men under age 70 with risk factors for osteoporosis
  • Women or men who have broken bones after age 50 or have lost more than 1½ inches of height
  • Women or men taking steroid medications for more than three months

Vertebral Fracture Assessment (VFA) is a spine imaging test that is quick and easy and can be done at the same time as your BMD test. VFA looks for broken bones in your spine or back. These bones can break with no real signs or symptoms. A broken spine bone increases your risk for future fracture. A broken spine means you are more likely to require osteoporosis treatment in order to prevent more broken bones. In general, VFA should be performed in all women age 70 years and older, and all men age 80 years and older. In some cases, this test should be done at an earlier age.


Treatment of osteoporosis should always include taking the steps for strong bones. You may need a bone density test. If your health care provider says you have osteoporosis or have significant risk factors for developing it, you may also need to take a medicine to reduce bone loss and prevent broken bones.


Bone health education is the key to helping you have strong bones for a lifetime. NYSOPEP can help you learn more about preventing, diagnosing, and treating osteoporosis. For more information about osteoporosis or to find out about educational programs or support groups, contact NYSOPEP or visit the NYSOPEP website,