Answers FAQ

Osteoporosis FAQs

Reviewed by William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

Take the Osteoporosis Quiz First! Before reading this FAQ, challenge yourself and
Test your Knowledge!

Q:The prefix "osteo-" refers to the body's joints. True or False?

A:False. The prefix "osteo-" (as in osteoporosis) refers to the body's bones. The prefix "arthro" or "arth" (before a vowel) refers to the body's joints (as in arthritis).

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Q:Osteoporosis is a disorder of what?

A:The skeleton. Osteoporosis is a significant loss of bone density of the skeleton.

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Q:Bones are composed of calcium, collagen, and what other substance?

A:Protein. Normal bone is composed of collagen, calcium, and protein, all of which give bone its strength.

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Q:Osteoporosis and osteoarthritis are the same condition. True or False?

A:False. Characteristics of osteoporosis include: Decrease in bone density and bone strength; abnormally porous bone that is compressible; bone fractures, and the breakdown of cartilage in the joints.

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Q:Swimming benefits bones more than weight-bearing exercises. True or False?

A:False. Swimming is great exercise, but for osteoporosis, nothing beats weight-bearing exercises that work against gravity, including stair-climbing, tennis, dancing, walking, and jogging.

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Q:Which food has the most calcium per serving: Cottage Cheese or Yogurt?

A:Yogurt. Yogurt has the most calcium, as much as 452 mg for an 8-ounce serving of the nonfat variety.

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Q:I may not be aware of my osteoporosis until I suffer a fracture. True or False?

A:True. Osteoporosis can be present without any symptoms for decades because osteoporosis does not cause symptoms until bone fractures. Therefore, patients may not be aware of their osteoporosis until they suffer a painful fracture.

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Q:What is the function of vitamin D?

A:Helps the body absorb calcium, Is present in foods such as salmon and canned sardines and Is also called the "sunshine" vitamin. Vitamin D (from foods or supplements) helps your body absorb calcium and regulates the levels of calcium in your bones. It is also called the "sunshine vitamin" because your body can form it naturally when you're out in the sun!

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Q:What is bone density or "bone mass"?

A:The amount of bone present in a given amount of the skeleton. Bone mass (bone density) is determined by the amount of bone present in the skeletal structure. Generally, the higher the bone density, the stronger the bones.

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Q:Who has higher bone density: African-Americans or Asian-Americans?

A:African-Americans. As a general rule, men have a higher bone density than women and African-Americans have a higher bone density than Caucasians or Asian-Americans.

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Q:Which age group needs the most calcium: Babies or Older Children?

A:Older children. Children ages 9-18 need the most calcium -- about 1,300 mg each day -- because their bones are growing rapidly. By the end of this period, youths will have established almost 90% of their adult bone mass.

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Q:About 20% of people with osteoporosis are men. True or False?

A:True. About 20% of people with osteoporosis are men. Testosterone deficiency is the main cause.

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Q:Osteoporosis can cause bones to resemble what common household item?

A:A sponge. Osteoporosis literally leads to abnormally porous bone that is compressible, like a sponge as opposed to a brick. This is caused by a decrease in the density of bone in addition to its decreasing strength and increasing fragility.

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Q:More than 99% of the body's calcium is contained in bones and teeth. True or False?

A:True. More than 99% of the body's calcium is contained in the bones and teeth. The remaining 1% is found in the blood.

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Q:What are risk factors for osteoporosis?

A:Age, gender, and family history , body size and ethnicity. Known osteoporosis risk factors include older age, Caucasian or Asian ethnicity, female gender, cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, lack of exercise, diet low in calcium, family history of osteoporosis, poor nutrition and poor general health, malabsorption, low estrogen levels, rheumatoid arthritis, and anorexia.

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