Essay by Anonymous UserHigh School, 11th gradeA, March 1996

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Osteoporosis is a significant health problem that affects more than 25 million women in the United States and potentially 200 million worldwide. This disease is characterized by diminishing the structure of the skeleton (particular the 'spongy' bone). This results in an increased risk of fracture. Osteoporosis develops silently over a period of years, eventually progressing to a point where a fracture can easily occur causing pain and disability. This disease is characterized by low bone mass and structural worsening of your bones, leading to bone fragility. There is an increased chances of damaging the hip, spine, and wrist .

Twenty-five million Americans are affected by Osteoporosis, making it a major public health problem. 80% of those affected by osteoporosis are women. One out of every two women and one in five men have an Osteoporosis-related fracture. By age 75, one third of all men will be affected by osteoporosis.

While osteoporosis is often thought of as an older person's disease, it can strike at any age. Osteoporosis is responsible for 1.5 million fractures annually, including:

more than 300,000 hip fractures

500,000 vertebral fractures

200,000 wrist fractures

Certain some people are more likely to develop Osteoporosis than others. These factors can increase your chances of getting osteoporosis.

A family history of fractures in elderly women

Use of certain medications

Chronically low calcium intake

Thin and/or small bones

An inactive lifestyle

Cigarette smoking

Excessive use of alcohol

Advanced age

Women have approximately 10 to 25 percent less total bone mass at maturity than men, making them more open to osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is often called the 'silent disease' because bone loss occurs without symptoms. People may not know that they have osteoporosis until their bones become so weak that a sudden strain, bump, or fall causes a fracture or a vertebra to...