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Osteoporosis - Affecting women
Submitted by Sachin on 16/06/2009 - 06:13 PM
Osteoporosis can often go undetected for decades. 80% of American women are at risk. The disease is usually advanced by the time symptoms are obvious. It causes bone deterioration and can result in fractures. More women die from hip fracture complications than from cancer. Osteoporosis can strike at any age, and affects both men and women. However, one out of every two women, as opposed to one in eight men, will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.

Osteoporosis literally means "porous bones." Healthy bones are made up of a thick outer shell and a strong inner mesh that looks like a honeycomb. The inner mesh contains blood vessels and bone marrow in the spaces between the bone. Osteoporosis occurs when the holes between bone become bigger, making it fragile and more likely to break. If not prevented or left untreated, the disease can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. The whole skeleton is usually affected, but fractures typically occur in the hip, spine and wrist.

The NOF has identified the following risk factors for osteoporosis:

1. Women are at greater risk because they have less bone tissue to begin with and lose bone more rapidly than men because of the changes involved in menopause. Small, thin boned women are at an even greater risk.
2. Age also matters. As you age your bones become less dense and weaker.
3. There is evidence that Caucasian and Asian women are at greater risk than African-American and Latino women.
4. Family history may also play a role. People with a history of fractures in their families seem to have reduced bone mass.
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