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Is Osteoporosis Hereditary?

Is Osteoporosis Hereditary?

About 44 million Americans have osteoporosis, the disease where your bones weaken and become more vulnerable to fractures. If you have a close relative, like a parent or sibling, with the condition, you’re at greater risk of adding to this statistic. 

Genetics, gender, and age are major risk factors for the disease. Your lifestyle matters too. The OB/GYN team at Capital Women’s Care in Silver Spring and Laurel, Maryland, knows how vulnerable women are to osteoporosis, especially after menopause, and want you to avoid serious side effects. 

We can help you prevent osteoporosis, or slow its progression. If you’re at greater risk of osteoporosis, early preventive measures are critical. Here’s what you can do. 

Why should I worry about osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis makes it more likely that you’ll suffer broken bones, especially in your hips, wrists, or spine. These bones may break due to a fall, but when you have osteoporosis, your bones are so weak that even a sneeze, bump, or cough can cause a fracture. 

The bones in your spine begin to collapse due to fractures, causing you to get shorter and be unable to stand up straight. Broken hips can impair your mobility, so you’re unable to do daily tasks on your own. A broken hip greatly increases your risk of early death

What role does genetics play in osteoporosis?

Your genetic risk of developing osteoporosis is especially high if you have a history of bone fractures on your mother’s side of the family. 

Women who have specific genes are thought to be at greater risk of developing the condition. 

Your risk also increases if you smoke or take certain medications like corticosteroids and thyroid hormones. Caucasian women with a smaller build are particularly vulnerable.

As you approach and pass through menopause, your risk of osteoporosis greatly increases too. Estrogen, a primary female sex hormone, reduces considerably during this change of life, and as a result, your bone density suffers. 

If you have surgery to remove your ovaries or a hysterectomy, you put yourself into early menopause and are also at greater risk of osteoporosis.

Poor calcium and vitamin D intake further increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. Excessive use of drugs or alcohol can also threaten the health of your bones.

At what age should I worry about osteoporosis?

You should be concerned about osteoporosis your whole life, especially if it runs in your family. The actions you take when you're younger directly affect the health of your bones as you get older. 

Your bone mass naturally stops increasing around age 30. In your 40s and 50s, bone tissue is breaking down faster than new tissue is replenishing it. You won’t feel this deterioration; it happens on the inside. 

Following menopause, your risk of osteoporosis greatly increases. Menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. 

What can I do to prevent osteoporosis?

Regardless of your risk of developing osteoporosis, what you do every day can protect you from the disease. 

A major way to promote good bone health is through your diet. Eating a diet with adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D is key. Include ample fresh fruits and vegetables (especially leafy greens), nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fresh fish, and eggs. 

You also benefit from limiting your alcohol intake and quitting smoking. Exercise regularly too. Focus on strength-training with weights and weight-bearing activities like walking and dancing. Balance training also helps you prevent falls as you age. 

If you’re at risk of osteoporosis, a simple bone screening can evaluate your bones. If you do have the disease, our team at Capital Women’s Care can help you manage it and prevent serious complications.

Call or use this website to request your appointment so we can get you screened for osteoporosis and get the relevant help you need.

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