Researchers Identify 3 New Osteoporosis Risk Factors

Janet Tiberian Author
By Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES
April 20, 2015
What are the risk factors of osteoporosis?

Bone health is a concern for many Americans and justifiably so, as statistics suggest that one in two women and one in four men over age 50 will suffer from an osteoporosis-related bone fracture at some point in her or his life. Loss of bone density is a natural part of aging, attributed to the shift in protective hormones like estrogen and testosterone. Even though many people are proactive about their bone health, the number of osteoporosis-related bone fractures in the U.S. continues to rise.

For years, healthcare professionals have educated Americans on the known risk factors of osteoporosis. Here's a list of common risk factors, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

  • Being female
  • Being older than 50
  • Having gone through menopause
  • Having a family history of osteoporosis
  • Having a small, thin body frame
  • Having a personal history of height loss, bones fractures
  • Taking corticosteroids, prostate cancer medications and antiseizure drugs regularly
  • Smoking
  • Living a sedentary lifestyle
  • Eating a diet low in bone-building nutrients
  • Consuming an excessive amount of alcohol (i.e., having more than one drink/day for women and more than two drinks/day for men)

Recently, three medical centers published new studies that suggest additional factors that may contribute to lower bone density.

  • Vasomotor Symptoms - A study at the University of Buffalo Clinical Center concluded that women who reported moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms, (i.e., hot flashes, flushes and night sweats) during and after menopause had a lower bone density in their hips and top portion of their legs, as well as a higher risk of hip fractures when compared to women who did not struggle with these symptoms. Be sure to discuss vasomotor symptoms and maintaining your bone density with your MDVIP-affiliated physician. For the latest information on hot flashes, read this article.
  • Sleep Apnea - Researchers at the Chi Mei Medical Center in Tainan (Taiwan) believe they may have identified sleep apnea as a risk factor. Research showed that depriving rats of sleep interfered with their bone formation, a component of the bone remodeling process that involves the removal of mature bone from the skeleton and replacement with new bone tissue. Experts are already anticipating that the study results on humans will be similar, as sleep apnea (and possibly other causes of sleep deprivation) seems to affect bone turnover and metabolism. Continue reading for more on this sleep apnea and osteoporosis study.
  • Greater Impact of Male Smoking - National Jewish Health findings suggest that middle-aged to older males who smoked were more likely than female smokers of the same age group to develop osteoporosis and spinal fractures. These findings are significant because they could lead to the development of bone screening guidelines for men and may be earlier treatment for smokers. Are you or a loved one interested in quitting smoking? This article about how to quit smoking on MDVIP Connect can help you develop a cessation plan

Your MDVIP-affiliated doctor can help you stay current with bone density screenings and create a bone-healthy lifestyle that includes:

Lastly, discuss with your MDVIP-affiliated physician if supplements for building bones like calcium and vitamin D are right for you. And, if you don’t have an MDVIP-affiliated doctor, click here to learn more about MDVIP's personalized healthcare approach and find a physician near you.


This content was last reviewed and updated during February 2021.

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About the Author
Janet Tiberian Author
Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES

Janet Tiberian is MDVIP's health educator. She has more than 25 years experience in chronic disease prevention and therapeutic exercise.

View All Posts By Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES
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