West Virginia Osteoporosis & Arthritis Program

West Virginia Osteoporosis & Arthritis Program

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Our Mission

To reduce the prevalence of Osteoporosis and Arthritis in West Virginia by providing information on prevention and education, making available information on treatment, and lessening pain and disability by encouraging individuals to maintain productive lives.

Osteoporosis and Women

True and False Questions

True or False? Osteoporosis is common in women.


Eighty percent of people who have osteoporosis are women. A woman's risk of osteoporosis is equal to her combined risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer.

True or False? Weak bones and osteoporosis are only a concern for older people.


It's older people who often have to deal with the consequences of weak bones, but the best time to strengthen them is when you're younger.

What exactly is osteoporosis?

Throughout your life, your skeleton loses old bone and forms new bone. Osteoporosis occurs when you lose too much bone, make too little of it, or both. As your bones become less dense, they get weaker and easier to break. Fractures from osteoporosis can occur in any bone, but you are most likely to break bones in your wrist, spine, and hip.

Children and teenagers form new bone faster than they lose the old bone. In fact, even after they stop growing taller, young people continue to make more bone than they lose. This means their bones get denser and denser until they reach what experts call peak bone mass. This is the point when you have the greatest amount of bone you will ever have. It usually occurs when you are a young adult, sometime between the ages of 18 and 25.

After you achieve peak bone mass, the balance between bone loss and bone formation might start to shift. In other words, you may slowly start to lose more bone than you form. In midlife, bone loss usually speeds up in men and women. For most women, the pace really picks up after menopause, when your body's production of estrogen drops sharply. Because estrogen protects bone, not producing as much can cause rapid bone loss.

Taking good care of your bones before menopause is wise. It can make you less likely to develop osteoporosis after menopause. And don't be discouraged about bone you might have already lost. You can always take steps to strenthen your bones. But take action now. Once you start to lose bone density, it's hard to reverse. Keep in mind that:

  • Calcium is critical for healthy bones, but many U.S. women consume less than half of what they need each day.
  • Young women whose mothers have a history of spinal fractures are also at risk for weak bones.
  • Being small-boned and thin (under 127 pounds) increases your risk of developing osteoporosis.
  • Anorexia nervosa, bulimia, early menopause, and surgical menopause can all increase your risk of osteoporosis.
West Virginia Bureau for Public Health • 350 Capitol Street • Room 206 • Charleston, WV 25301
phone: 304-558-0644 • fax: 304-558-1553

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