QUESTION: What do smoking cigarettes, being sedentary, small-boned and thin all have in common?
(Hint: read the above title for a clue)
ANSWER: These are among the risk factors for osteoporosis - a disease which leads to bone fragility and puts you at an increased risk for fractures. Other risk factors include drinking two or more alcoholic beverages a day, having gone through menopause and taking certain types of medications.
But there is some good news: osteoporosis is both preventable and treatable.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis - where bones become weak and can fracture from something as simple as a sneeze - affects 10 million people in the U.S., and 8 million of those are women.
And much as I hate to admit it, I fall in this next class: I am one of the almost 34 million who has osteopenia -- lower-than-normal bone mass (which puts me and others in the risk category for developing osteoporosis.) My recent bone density test showed that, following in the footsteps of my mom, I have a bit of bone loss in one of my hips (thank you, heredity and genetics...)
After learning this I promptly stepped up both my exercise frequency and my intake of calcium and also had my vitamin D tested. (Do you hate to exercise? You don't have to go to the gym - try walking outdoors - it's free and fun!)