Osteoporosis is a bone disease where parts of the bone become weak and prone to fracture. This condition is more common in seniors, but can affect men and women of all ages. Osteoporosis is responsible for a large number of bone fractures that occur in seniors, as the weakened bones can no longer support their body weight.
At least 2 million Canadians have osteoporosis. While men also develop osteoporosis, this condition is particularly common among women who have reached menopause. The increased risk at menopause reflects the fact that the hormone estrogen, a key factor in maintaining bone strength in women, is no longer produced by the ovaries after menopause.
Because women have 30% less bone mass than men, women are particularly prone to osteoporosis as they age. However, after reaching 65 to 70 years of age, men and women lose bone at about the same rate. Eating enough foods rich in calcium and vitamin D and participating in weight-bearing exercises are important steps in preventing osteoporosis.