In osteoporosis, the skeletal system loses bone volume and mineral content as osteoclast activity increases. The
affected bones develop spaces and canals that enlarge and fill with fibrous and fatty tissues. Such bones easily fracture
and may spontaneously break because they are no longer able to support the body’s weight. For example, a person
with osteoporosis may experience a spontaneous fracture of the femur (thigh bone) at the hip or a collapse of sections
of the vertebrae (backbone). Osteoporosis is most common in light-complexioned females after menopause (women
stop having menstrual cycle).
Factors that increase the risk of osteoporosis include low intake of dietary calcium, lack of physical exercise
(particularly during the early growing years), and in females, decrease in blood estrogen concentration. (Estrogen is a
hormone that ovaries produce until menopause.) Drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and inheriting certain genes may
also increase a person’s risk of developing osteoporosis.
Bone mass usually peaks at about age thirty-five. Thereafter, bone loss may exceed bone formation in both
males and females. To reduce such loss, people in their mid-twenties and older should take in 1,000-1,500 milligrams of
calcium daily. In addition, people should regularly engage in exercise, such as walking or jogging, that requires the
bones to support the body weight. A test to measure bone mineral density is advised for people over age 65 or younger
individuals with risk factors for osteoporosis, such as family history of the condition, certain types of cancer or bleeding
disorders, thyroid problems, multiple sclerosis, or alcoholism. Several types of drugs can slow the progression of
osteoporosis. Drugs called bisphosphonates re-establish a normal balance of osteoclast to osteoblast activity. Other
drugs mimic hormones that help bone tissue to retain calcium.
Directions: Answer the following questions IN COMPLETE SENTENCES on a separate sheet of paper. Describe what
osteoporosis is.
What are some steps that a person can take to prevent from suffering from osteoporosis?
What populations are more at risk from getting osteoporosis?
Which type of cell increases activity in osteoporosis?
Describe why women are more at risk from suffering from osteoporosis.
Why is the drug bisphosphonates prescribed as part of a treatment plan for osteoporosis?
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