Frequently Asked Questions

5. What are risk factors for osteoporosis that I can control?

Here are risk factors for osteoporosis that you can control.

  • Poor diet. Getting too little calcium over your lifetime can increase your risk for osteoporosis. Not getting enough vitamin D -- either from your diet, supplements, or sunlight -- can also increase your risk for osteoporosis. Vitamin D is important because it helps the body absorb calcium. An overall diet adequate in protein and other vitamins and minerals is also essential for bone health.
  • Physical inactivity. Not exercising and being inactive or staying in bed for long periods can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. Like muscles, bones become stronger with exercise.
  • Smoking. Cigarette smokers may absorb less calcium from their diets. In addition, women who smoke have lower levels of estrogen in their bodies. Learn more about smoking and bone health.
  • Medications. Some commonly used medicines can cause loss of bone mass. These include a type of steroid called glucocorticoids, which are used to control diseases such as arthritis and asthma; some antiseizure drugs; some medicines that treat endometriosis; and some cancer drugs. Using too much thyroid hormone for an underactive thyroid can also be a problem. Talk to your doctor about the medications you are taking and what you can do to protect your bones.
  • Low body weight. Women who are thin -- and small-boned -- are at greater risk for osteoporosis.