Myths and Misconceptions about Osteoporosis

OsteoporosisOsteoporosis affects more than 28 million people in the United States and is one of the most common bone diseases. We now know that with diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, supplements and drug therapies, osteoporosis is totally preventable! Yet misinformation abounds. Here are the most common myths and misconceptions about osteoporosis and a brief answer for each.

Only women get osteoporosis.

False. Even though it is more common in women, men can get osteoporosis too. In fact, it has been estimated that in the United States, almost 2 million men have osteoporosis and another 3 million are at risk. Like women, elderly men often suffer from fractured hips, spine, wrists and other bones. Fortunately, osteoporosis is as preventable in men as it is in women.

Women of color do not need to worry about osteoporosis.

False. While Caucasian and Asian women are at higher risk for osteoporosis, African-American and Hispanic women also need to take steps to maintain healthy bones.

I am too young to worry about osteoporosis.

Not true. Many people do not realize they have osteoporosis until the disease is in advanced stages. That is why it is so important to get into the habit early of eating right and exercising daily. You're never too young to make lifestyle choices that will help you maintain healthy bones.

I drink lots of milk, so I won't get osteoporosis.

This is not necessarily true. Drinking milk is a great way to get calcium, however we now know that calcium is not the only tool for preventing osteoporosis. There are at least 17 other nutrients that are important for bone health. In addition, there are other things people must do to prevent this disease, including getting regular exercise and making other healthy lifestyle choices like not smoking.

My mother has osteoporosis, so I'm bound to get it too.

Osteoporosis is preventable! Having a family member with osteoporosis does put you at higher risk, but do not think of it as an inevitable part of your future. Start today to improve your health through diet and exercise. You then have a fighting chance of breaking that piece of your family history.

I'll know when I have osteoporosis, then I'll do something about it.

People with osteoporosis are often symptom-free for many years. That is why it is called the "silent killer." In many cases, it is not until something serious happens, like a broken hip or spine that the problem is discovered. If your bones become so fragile that they break, the damage is quite advanced. You may not know it until it's too late.

Osteoporosis is not that serious; the worst that can happen is a broken bone.

For some people, recovering from these fractures is difficult or even impossible. In fact, many hip fracture patients over the age 50 die in the year following their fracture or require long-term care after their injury.

I'm too old to do anything about osteoporosis.

Not true! While starting early to prevent the onset of osteoporosis is important, there are ways to treat the disease as well. There are a variety of medications available that can help strengthen bones and increase their density. In addition, using supplements and starting an exercise program, even if you are older, can help prevent any further damage from the disease.

Osteoporosis is not a disease; it's just a natural part of aging.

This is one of the most common misconceptions about osteoporosis. It is not true that we are all doomed to futures of being hunched over or suffering from broken hips. It is seen in so many elderly people today because we did not know how preventable it was when they were younger. However, if we all start to improve our lifestyles and maintain healthy bones, we should start to see less and less cases of osteoporosis. Hopefully future generations will never need to suffer from this disease.

Updated on: 08/11/15
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Osteoporosis Condition Center

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