Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. As a result, bones become weak and may break from a fall or, in serious cases, from sneezing or minor bumps. Osteoporosis means “porous bone.”
Your bones are still being rebuilt in your 20s, she explains, which means you can continue to strengthen them during this time. Here, a few smart lifestyle strategies that can help offset your risk.
Eat the right foods
Maintain a healthy weight
Understand your risk factors
Some women have greater risk of developing osteoporosis than others. If these factors apply to you, consider discussing bone health with your doctor. He or she might recommend a bone density scan to start monitoring your bone mass from an earlier age.
You have a family history. If osteoporosis runs in your family, such as if your mother or grandmother has it, you have an increased risk of developing it yourself. This is especially true if a family member had early onset osteoporosis, meaning it started before age 60.
You have irregular periods. Because estrogen may be linked to bone density, a woman who isn’t having a regular period may not be benefiting from the hormone’s protective effects on bone health, Dr. Adimoolam explains. Similarly, if your period stops for more than a year and you’re not on birth control, let your doctor know. (Most birth control pills contain estrogen, so if you don’t have your period and you’re on the pill, you don’t have to be too concerned about your bone health, Dr. Adimoolam says.)
You have premature ovarian failure. Women who have this condition, which occurs when the ovaries fail before age 40, have a higher risk of osteoporosis, Dr. Adimoolam says.
You’re a smoker. As if you needed another reason to quit: In addition to lung cancer, heart disease, and stroke, smoking cigarettes can also contribute to osteoporosis.