Osteoporosis occurs when the body loses bone at a rate faster than it can be replaced. As a result, bones become weaker, more brittle, and more likely to break. Osteoporosis is not a natural part of aging. It is often called a "silent disease" because you can't always see or feel its effects - the first sign may be a broken bone. It usually occurs in postmenopausal women - an estimated 8 million American women over 50 have osteoporosis and another 22 million are at risk of developing it.
A bone density test - called a DEXA test - can help determine your risk for getting the disease. There are ways to help prevent osteoporosis, such as exercise, eating a balanced diet with calcium supplementation, natural hormone replacement therapy, and medication.