Surprising Risk Factors for Osteoporosis

The risk of osteoporosis is not something that should be taken lightly. There are many reasons why your bones become brittle and fragile, and it’s important that people have the proper level of awareness.

Existing health issues can have an impact on your bones, leaving them at a higher risk for weakness and even fractures. There is also a chance that certain medical treatments will increase your risk of osteoporosis.

The following is a list of health conditions that people should be aware of when determining the risk of osteoporosis:

Autoimmune diseases:  Studies have shown that both rheumatoid arthritis and lupus disease is linked to a higher risk of osteoporosis. Some of the medications used to control the symptoms; especially steroids can lead to bone loss as well.

Digestive Problems: Certain digestive disorders prevent the absorption of vitamin D and calcium, which strengthen bones. Examples would be crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and celiac disease.

Hormone Disorders: Men with low testosterone are known to have a higher chance of getting osteoporosis and those who suffer from type 1 diabetes. At this point, researchers have been unable to explain why diabetes affects the bones.

Thyroid Issues: Both hyperthyroidism and hyperparathyroidism are linked to osteoporosis.

Eating Disorders: Bulimia and anorexia rob the body of calcium and other nutrients that are important to bone health.

Smoking: Research has shown that smoking can interfere with calcium absorption.

Excessive Alcohol: Large amounts of alcohol can decrease hormone levels and increase cortisol levels in the body. This leads to a loss of bone density.

Kidney Disease:  Kidney problems can impact both vitamin D levels and hormones, which in turn can affect your bone health.

Weight Loss Surgery: Following weight loss surgery such as, removal of part of the stomach, the digestive tract has difficulty absorbing vitamin D and calcium; both are important for strong bones.

Inactivity: Bones are just like muscles; they need to be worked in order to stay strong.


Often the treatment methods for what illness and disease can contribute to bone weakness. Below is a list of some medications that are known to increase the risk of osteoporosis.

  • Cortisone/corticosteroids
  • Cancer chemotherapy drugs
  • Depo-Provera (birth control)
  • Anti-depressants
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Thyroxin
  • Cyclosporine A & Tacrolmus
  • Anticoagulants


Nutritionists and doctors believe diet plays a large role in our bone health. According to the World Health Organization, the amount of protein we ingest is a big risk factor for osteoporosis. High amounts of protein create strong acids in the stomach. To neutralize the acid our bodies us alkalizing minerals like calcium. The body will take calcium from wherever it can get it, including from bone. It is interesting to note that osteoporosis is very high among the Inuit population, and they have high protein diet.

While all of this sounds daunting, the positive news is that we are in control because it comes down to lifestyle choices. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor about how you can balance out your lifestyle to lower your risks.

Related Reading: 7 Workouts for stronger, healthier bones