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Osteoporosis is a disease in which bone is lost faster than the body can replace it. This causes bones to become brittle and more susceptible to fracture. While it is more common in women than in men, both sexes are affected by it. Most fractures related to this condition occur in the hip, spine, and wrist.

What Is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis, which means "porous bone," is a disease characterized by low bone mass (bone thinning) that leads to fragile bones and an increased risk of fractures of the hip, spine, and wrist. Men as well as women are affected by this condition. Osteoporosis is a disease that can be prevented and treated.

Understanding Osteoporosis and Bones

Bone is living, growing tissue. It is made mostly of collagen, a protein that provides a soft framework, and calcium phosphate, a mineral that adds strength and hardens the framework.
This combination of collagen and calcium phosphate makes bone both flexible and strong, which, in turn, helps it withstand stress. More than 99 percent of the body's calcium is contained in the bones and teeth. The remaining 1 percent is found in the blood.
Throughout your lifetime, old bone is removed (a process called resorption) and new bone is added to the skeleton (a process called formation). During childhood and the teenage years, new bone is added faster than old bone is removed. As a result, bones become larger, heavier, and denser. Bone formation outpaces resorption until peak bone mass (maximum bone density and strength) is reached around age 30. After that time, bone resorption slowly begins to exceed bone formation.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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