Osteoporosis is largely avoidable, experts say

More than 4 million women are diagnosed with osteoporosis every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the condition is very common, experts say that it doesn’t have to be, and that knowing the risk factors for the disease may help many women avoid low bone density and painful broken bones.

Some of the most common risk factors for osteoporosis include low calcium intake, smoking, excessive alcohol use and eating disorders. Additionally, some recent studies have shown that certain medication increase the risk of bone health problems. For example, a study published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research found that many women on breast cancer treatments have low bone density, which increases the risk of fractures.

Family history and body type have also been associated with an increased risk. While women who have these risk factors may be more prone to developing the condition, they are not necessarily doomed to have poor bone health. Most of the factors are completely modifiable, and can be eliminated relatively easily.

Dr. Murry Favus, a professor of medicine at the University of Chicago School of Medicine, told ABC News that the sooner women take steps to eliminate these risk factors, the better their chances are of avoiding a break. This is because osteoporosis and other bone health conditions generally do not present any symptoms until it is too late.

"Both [osteoporosis and osteopenia] conditions are silent, in that losing bone does not cause symptoms until or unless there is a fracture," he told the news source. "So, awareness of the individual's risk factors and bone density is critical in preventing fractures."

He added that women who have any of these risk factors should continue making lifestyle changes to bring down their chances of developing osteoporosis as much as possible.