Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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Osteoporosis is a disease that affects a person's bone mass and increases the deterioration of bone tissue causing bones to become fragile and prone to breakages. Bone is a form of connective tissue that is made of collagen, a protein that provides elasticity and calcium, which makes bones hard. Bones are constantly growing with osteoclasts breaking down and reabsorbing old bone and osteoblasts building new bone. During the early years of life, bone is made faster then it is broken down. This heightened bone growth continues until about the age of thirty, when maximum bone strength and density is achieved. After the age of thirty, bone formation slows and reabsortion exceeds bone formation. Osteoporosis usually develops after the age of thirty. Osteoporosis causes bones to become more fragile and prone to breakages. Fractures or breaks occur most frequently at the wrist, hip, and spine, but can affect any bone in the body.

Fractures of the spine and hip are of most concern because they both have serious consequences and cause extreme pain. An estimated 8 million American women and 2 million American men have osteoporosis. An estimated 34 million people have low bone density.

There are certain risk factors for osteoporosis. Females are more likely to develop the disease. Age is also a main contributing factor to the development of osteoporosis. Women are 20% more likely to develop osteoporosis five to seven years after menopause. Anorexia, a diet low in calcium, and inactive lifestyle, smoking cigarettes and excessive use of alcohol also increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis has very few symptoms; it is very hard to detect bone loss. Most people are unaware they have osteoporosis until they break a bone. Osteoporosis is often called the "silent disease" because it is so hard to detect. There are some...