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One of the most important health issues for middle-aged women is the threat of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become thin, fragile, and highly prone to fracture. Numerous studies have linked estrogen deficiency to this subtle, yet debilitating disease.

In fact, osteoporosis is more closely related to menopause than to a woman's chronological age. This means that no matter what the age of the woman, when her estrogen levels decrease her risk of osteoporosis increases. The risk of osteoporosis also increases with smoking, heavy alcohol use, a family history of osteoporosis, long-term use of certain drugs (such as cortisone), surgical removal of the ovaries, radiation therapy for cancer of the ovaries, poor nutrition and other factors. Thin, small framed women should pay special attention to preserving their bone mass, because they are more prone to developing osteoporosis.

Factors that increase the risk of developing Osteoporosis

Medical Factors

  • White (or Asian) ethnicity
  • Kidney disease requiring dialysis
  • Early menopause (before age 40)
  • Female relatives with osteoporosis
  • Being thin (especially if you are short)
  • Chronic diarrhea or surgical removal of part of the stomach or small intestine
  • Daily use of cortisone
  • Daily use of large doses of thyroid meds, Dilantin, or aluminum-containing antacids

Life Style Factors

  • Low calcium diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Very high-protein diet
  • High alcohol use
  • Smoking
  • Vitamin D Deficiency
  • High salt diet
  • Nulliparity (having had no children)
  • High caffeine use (over 5 cups daily)

The condition of an older woman's skeleton depends on two things:

  • The peak amount of bone attained before menopause and
  • The rate of the bone loss thereafter.

Hereditary is important in determining peak bone mass. For instance, African American women attain greater spinal mass and therefore have fewer osteoporotic fractures than White women. Other factors that help increase bone mass include:

    • Adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D
    • Exposure to sunlight and
    • Physical exercise.

These elements also help slow the rate of bone loss. Certain physiological stresses can increase bone loss, such as pregnancy, nursing, and immobility. The biggest factor in the process of bone loss is the loss of estrogen. Bone loss occurs quickly during peri-menopause, the phase during which estrogen levels drop significantly. The most effective therapy to help prevent osteoporosis available today for postmenopausal women is hormone replacement therapy. Estrogen saves more bone tissue than the daily infusion of large doses of calcium.

Influences on Bone Development

    • Dietary Calcium
    • Estrogen Deficiency
    • Vitamin D
    • Pregnancy
    • Exposure to Sunlight
    • Nursing
    • Exercise
    • Lack of exercise


Dr. Jill Waggoner
Charlton Medical Group
3450 West Wheatland Road
Physician Offices II, Suite 340
Dallas, Texas  75237

T 972.217.3007

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

PO Box 2118

Desoto, Tx 75213


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