Basic Facts

Bones are made of living tissue. The body can repair and renew bone. Certain bone cells break down old, damaged bone. This allows other bone cells called osteoblasts to produce healthy new bone.

This renewal and repair process is called “bone remodeling;” it can keep bone healthy. Exercise and body weight stress bone and cause remodeling. Hormones and other chemicals in the blood can also cause bone remodeling.

As people age, their bone remodeling can result in more bone being lost than created. This lowers their bone mineral density (BMD).

  • Women have more age-related bone loss after menopause. This happens because their bodies produce less estrogen as they age. Older women can lose up to 7% of their bone mass every year.
  • Men also lose bone when their bodies have less of the hormone testosterone. Bone loss is more gradual in men.

Three Common Types of Bone Loss

  • Osteopenia is moderate bone loss with a risk of fracture. This often happens before osteoporosis occurs.
  • Osteoporosis is severe bone loss with a higher risk of fracture.
  • Osteomalacia are problems related to minerals in bone. This disease causes pain, muscle weakness, and fractures. Causes can be:
    • Too little vitamin D (most common cause)
    • Kidney or liver disease
    • Overuse of some medications
    • Problems absorbing nutrition during digestion

 Osteoporosis is the Most Common Bone Disease 

  • 54 million people age 50 or older have osteoporosis or are at risk of getting it.
  • About 9 million people have osteoporosis; most are White or Asian American.
  • About 20 percent of American women over the age of 50 already have osteoporosis. Eighty percent of all people with osteoporosis are women.
  • Osteoporosis will cause about 3 million fractures (broken bones) a year by 2025.


Last Updated December 2022