Osteoporosis is a metabolic disease involving loss of bone tissue and the disorganization of bone structure. Osteoporosis affects more than 200 million people worldwide and more than 10 million Americans. In the United States an additional 18 million persons have low bone mass. The total of 28 million individuals represents almost 10% of all Americans, characterizing the pandemic nature of these disorders of bone.
A long list of other diseases may cause bone loss (osteopenia), including many varieties of malignant cancer, hyperthyroidism, and malabsorption syndrome. Osteoporosis is bone loss specifically related to metabolic factors. These factors include calcium levels, vitamin D levels, and the activity of osteoblasts – bone cells which produce bone matrix. Bone matrix is a mix of organic components such as collagen and inorganic materials such as phosphate and calcium. Loss of bone mass describes loss of the components of the bone matrix.
Many conditions, circumstances, and deficiencies may be implicated in the development of osteoporosis. Menopause is strongly correlated with the presence of osteoporosis. Age greater than 50 and smoking are strongly correlated, as well. Calcium deficiency, vitamin D deficiency, inadequate dietary protein, and certain gastrointestinal syndromes are all causes of loss of bone mass and osteoporosis.