Osteoporosis Facts and Statistics: What You Need to Know

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become weak and often leads to complications. This condition is sometimes referred to as a "silent disease" because there often aren't any noticeable symptoms until the weakened bone leads to a fracture. Around 10 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with osteoporosis.

This article provides facts and statistics about osteoporosis, including a description of the condition, who it affects, risk factors, and how it is diagnosed.

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Osteoporosis Overview

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that causes loss of bone mass. There are two main layers of bone tissue: cancellous and compact. Cancellous tissue looks like a sponge with many holes throughout the bone. Compact bone forms a hard protective layer over the cancellous tissue.

Bone tissue is dynamic; your body continuously breaks down old bone and builds new bone. When a person is growing, new bone is made faster than old bone is broken down, causing the bones to become stronger. This continues until around 25 years of age. Bone strength stays stable until around age 50. After that age, bone breakdown occurs faster than bone building, which decreases bone strength over time.

Osteoporosis causes a severe breakdown in bone tissue. The holes in cancellous bone tissue get bigger, while the outer layer of compact bone gets thinner. Over time, the bone becomes extremely weak. Fractures most often occur in the bones of the hips, wrists, and vertebrae that make up the spine.

Fractures caused by osteoporosis can occur without any trauma, includingduring normal dailyactivities such as bending over or sneezing.

Osteoporosis by itself is not a life-threatening condition but complications from fractures caused by the disease can significantly impact mobility and independence. This can eventually lead to death.


Bone loss that leads to osteoporosis occurs gradually. Osteopenia is a condition that develops when the bone mass has started to decrease. This condition can be a precursor to osteoporosis. However, with weight-bearing exercise and dietary changes, osteopenia can often be reversed.

How Common Is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis affects around 10 million people in the United States. However, an additional 43 million people in the United States have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis because they already have low bone mass.

Osteoporosis by Age and Gender

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 2017 to 2018, 8.4% of adults ages 50–64 and 17.7% of adults ages 65 and older had osteoporosis. During those same years, low bone mass—occurring prior to osteoporosis—was present in 39.3% of adults ages 50-64 and 47.5% of adults ages 65 and older.

Osteoporosis is 4 times more common in women than men. This is due to a reduction of estrogen levels that occurs in women during menopause, which can lead to bone loss. Women typically develop osteoporosis at a younger age than men and also experience bone loss at a faster rate than men.

Fractures from osteoporosis are also more common in women than men. Around 50% of women with this condition will have fractures, compared to 25% of men.

Osteoporosis by Ethnicity

Osteoporosis most commonly affects Asian and non-Hispanic White women in the United States. In men, it is most common in the non-Hispanic White population.

Risk Factors for Osteoporosis

There are many reasons some people have a higher incidence of osteoporosis than others, including:

  • Female sex
  • Smoking
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Small body frame (thinner bones)
  • Low estrogen levels (women)
  • Menopause
  • Low testosterone levels (men)
  • Lack of calcium, vitamin D, or protein in the diet
  • Long-term use of steroid medications
  • Side effect of some medications (used to treat conditions such as cancer, stomach ulcers, depression, seizures, and diabetes)
  • Long periods of bed rest
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Advanced age
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Osteoporosis and Mortality

Osteoporosis by itself is not a fatal condition. However, it can lead to serious fractures that can cause early mortality (death). This occurs in about 20% to 40% of people after an injury. Mortality rates from an osteoporosis-related injury are higher in men than in women.

Screening and Diagnosis of Osteoporosis

Screening and diagnosis of osteoporosis are performed through a bone mineral density (BMD) test. This is typically done with a DXA scan or dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry of the femur bone in the thigh and vertebrae in the low back.

DXA scan results are reported as a t-score. A normal t-score is minus 1 or higher. A score between minus 1 and minus 2.5 indicates osteopenia or low bone density. A diagnosis of osteoporosis is made when your t-score is minus 2.5 or less.

Osteoporosis screening is recommended for women over the age of 65 years or for younger women who have risk factors for the disease. There are no specific screening recommendations for men. Men who have certain risk factors for osteoporosis may benefit from regular screening. Talk with your healthcare provider about your risks.

Treatment of osteoporosis includes medications, diet modifications, and lifestyle changes to improve habits.


Osteoporosis is a disease caused by low bone density. This condition affects 10 million people in the United States, and it is 4 times more common in women than men. Risk factors for osteoporosis include advanced age, smoking, low levels of estrogen (women) or testosterone (men), excessive alcohol consumption, and lack of physical activity. It is diagnosed with bone mineral density testing and treated with a combination of medications, diet changes, and healthy lifestyle habits.

A Word From Verywell

If you've been diagnosed with osteoporosis, it's important to take the necessary steps to help prevent bone fractures. One way to do this is to reduce your risk of falls by wearing nonslip footwear, avoiding slippery surfaces, removing throw rugs and clutter from the floor, and installing grab bars in the shower. If you have trouble with your balance, see a physical therapist for an evaluation. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions and take your medications as prescribed.

12 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Osteoporosis workgroup.

  3. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Anatomy of the bone.

  4. NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center. Osteoporosis overview.

  5. American Academy of Family Physicians. What is osteopenia?

  6. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Osteoporosis: What you need to know as you age.

  7. Alswat KA. Gender disparities in osteoporosisJ Clin Med Res. 2017;9(5):382-387. doi:10.14740%2Fjocmr2970w

  8. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Osteoporosis.

  9. Guzon-Illescas O, Perez Fernandez E, Crespí Villarias N, et al. Mortality after osteoporotic hip fracture: incidence, trends, and associated factorsJ Orthop Surg Res. 2019;14:203. doi:10.1186%2Fs13018-019-1226-6

  10. International Osteoporosis Foundation. Diagnosis.

  11. Harvard Health Publishing. What's your t-score? Bone density scans for osteoporosis.

  12. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Osteoporosis to prevent fractures: Screening.

By Aubrey Bailey, PT, DPT, CHT
Aubrey Bailey is a physical therapist and professor of anatomy and physiology with over a decade of experience providing in-person and online education for medical personnel and the general public, specializing in the areas of orthopedic injury, neurologic diseases, developmental disorders, and healthy living.