Causes of Osteoporosis

Primary osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is characterized by weakened bones that become fragile and prone to fracture (break). Our bones are in a state of constant renewal; cells called osteoclasts remove old bone and cells called osteoblasts form new bone. In young healthy women, these two processes are in balance. However, as women age, particularly after menopause, bone destruction occurs at a greater rate than bone formation. This imbalance leads to weak bones with less bone density. This process is due to decreased levels of estrogen, a hormone produced by the ovaries.

Secondary osteoporosis: Secondary osteoporosis is osteoporosis related to causes other than decreased estrogen levels. These causes include chronic diseases such as renal failure and inflammatory bowel disease, endocrine disorders such as Type 1 diabetes and hyperthyroidism, and long-term use of medications including Dilantin and steroids.  Secondary osteoporosis is much less common than primary osteoporosis.