Bones & JointsWho Is Most Affected by Osteoporosis? Assessing Your Risk

Who Is Most Affected by Osteoporosis? Assessing Your Risk

Osteoporosis is one of the most common bone disorders, affecting nearly 44 million people in the United States; or nearly half of all people over the age of 50. Given that osteoporosis is so common, many people wonder whether or not they are at an increased risk. Additionally, how can you tell if you’re at risk for osteoporosis? The answer to who is most affected by osteoporosis isn’t as simple as age. To better understand your risk for osteoporosis, it’s first important to understand what it is, and what causes it.

Below, we’ll take a closer look at what osteoporosis is, what causes it, and how you can tell if you are at higher risk. Let’s first start by understanding what osteoporosis is.

What Is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that develops when your bone mineral density and bone mass decrease, or when the quality or structure of your bones changes. These changes to your bones can be so dramatic that things like a fall or even mild stress such as bending over or coughing can cause a fracture. Typically, the areas of the body most affected by osteoporosis include the hips, wrists, or spine.

Bones are living tissue, and are constantly being broken down and replaced. However, when the creation of new bone doesn’t keep up with the loss of old bone, osteoporosis can occur.

While osteoporosis can affect anyone, at any age, some risk factors cause the disease to be more prevalent in others. To determine who is most affected by osteoporosis, it’s important to understand what causes it, as it can be an indicator of your risk.

What Causes Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis occurs when too much bone mass is lost and changes occur in the structure of your bones. Your bones are in a constant state of renewal; as new bone is made, old ones are broken down and replaced.

When you’re young, your body can produce new bone faster than it breaks down old bone. As a result, your bone mass increases. Typically, this over-production slows down after the age of 20, and most people will reach their peak bone mass before age 30. After 30, this process slows, and most people experience more bone loss as they age.

Not everyone will develop osteoporosis as a result of slower bone production. The question of who is most affected by osteoporosis depends on how much bone mass you attained in your youth. While peak bone mass can vary by ethnic group, the higher your peak bone mass, the more you have “saved up,” and the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis as you age.

To understand who is most affected by osteoporosis, the most important thing to understand is the risk factors associated with it. Next, we’ll take a closer look at these risk factors, including both ones that you can change, and ones you cannot.

Who Is Most Affected by Osteoporosis?

Who Is Most Affected by Osteoporosis?

When determining who is most affected by osteoporosis, several factors need to be taken into account. Typically, these can be broken down into two categories: risk factors that you can change, and risk factors that you cannot change.

Risk factors you can change include things like lifestyle, diet, and exercise; while risk factors you cannot change typically include things like genetics, family history, and age. Many people with osteoporosis have several risk factors, but others who develop the disease have no known risk factors.

Below, we’ll break down who is most affected by osteoporosis by examining these two groups of risk factors, starting with risk factors you can change.

Risk Factors You Can Change

If you’re trying to determine who is most affected by osteoporosis, a common starting place is things like age, race, or gender. However, some of the most significant risk factors for osteoporosis are things that are completely within your control.

Risk factors for osteoporosis that you can include:

  • Lifestyle: People who spend long periods sitting have a significantly higher risk of osteoporosis than those who are more active. Weight-bearing activities and exercises that promote balance and good posture are good for your bone health.
  • Smoking: While the extent to which tobacco use raises the risk of osteoporosis is unclear, what is clear is that it contributes to weaker bones, which may lead to osteoporosis.
  • Alcohol Intake: Regular consumption of more than two alcoholic drinks a day increases the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D Intake: We all know that calcium helps build strong bones. That’s why a lack of calcium intake is known to play a significant role in the development of osteoporosis. Low calcium levels can lead to lower bone density, early bone loss, and an increased risk of fractures.
  • Medication Use: Long-term use of certain medications, such as glucocorticoids and some anticonvulsants can lead to loss of bone density and fractures.
  • Sex Hormones: Lowered levels of sex hormones tend to increase your risk of weaker bones. The significant decrease in estrogen levels in women during menopause is one of the strongest risk factors for developing osteoporosis. Treatments for prostate cancer that reduce testosterone levels are also likely to cause accelerated bone loss.

Along with these changeable risk factors, another important part of who is most affected by osteoporosis is those you cannot change.

Risk Factors You Can’t Change

Oftentimes, conditions like osteoporosis tend to affect certain groups of people more than others. While these can often be traced back to things like lifestyle or medication use, osteoporosis has several known risk factors that are unchangeable. These often include things such as race, age, and genetics, which we’ll take a look at next.

Known risk factors for osteoporosis that you cannot change include:

  • Sex: Osteoporosis is more common in women than in men. The condition affects almost 20% (1 in 5) of women over the age of 50. However, only 5% (1 in 20) of men aged 50 and older.
  • Age: Perhaps the strongest predictor of osteoporosis is your age. The older you are, the greater your risk of developing osteoporosis. This is because your bones become thinner and weaker as you age.
  • Race: While still unclear as to the exact cause, osteoporosis appears to be most common in Asian women.
  • Family History: Osteoporosis may also be due, in part, to hereditary factors. People with a family history of fractures or known osteoporosis may be at higher risk.
    Body Size: People with smaller, thin-framed bodies also appear to develop osteoporosis more frequently than others.

So, who is most affected by osteoporosis? Let’s take a look at the bottom line.

Bottom Line: Who Is Most Affected by Osteoporosis?

Bottom Line: Who Is Most Affected by Osteoporosis?

When looking for who is most affected by osteoporosis, many things need to be taken into account. First and foremost, if you know that you have a family history of osteoporosis, you should talk with your doctor about whether or not screening is right for you.

The next most important thing to keep in mind when determining who is most affected by osteoporosis are things like age, sex, and lifestyle. So, if you are a woman, over the age of 50, who smokes and has a relatively sedentary lifestyle, you would be at a significantly higher risk of osteoporosis than average.

It’s important to note that while age and sex are two of the most common risk factors, anyone can develop osteoporosis. If you have any of the above-mentioned risk factors, you should talk to your doctor to learn if you should be screened for osteoporosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), screening for osteoporosis is recommended for women who are 65 years old or older and for women who are 50 to 64 and have certain risk factors, which include having a parent who has broken a hip.

The answer to who is most affected by osteoporosis is more complex than simply age or sex. By assessing your risk early, you can greatly increase your chances of catching osteoporosis before it becomes advanced. As with most diseases and chronic conditions, an early diagnosis can greatly improve your chances of more effective treatment.

Do You Know Who Is Most Affected by Osteoporosis?

Let us know in the comments section below!

What topics related to osteoporosis should we cover next?

Email us your ideas at, we may just feature yours in a future article!

Are you or someone you know living with osteoporosis? Are you looking for a support group?

Join the Pain Resource Community today by clicking here, and start growing your support network today!

Pain Cream SHOP


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here