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Osteoporosis, which means porous bones, is a progressive condition in which bones become structurally weak and are more likely to fracture or break. It is sometimes called a “silent” disease, because bone loss often occurs without the patient’s knowledge.
Too much or too little of certain hormones in the body can contribute to osteoporosis. During and after menopause, the ovaries make much less of the hormone estrogen. Estrogen helps protect bone from becoming porous. Estrogen loss may also occur with surgical removal of the ovaries or because of excessive dieting and exercise.
Men produce less testosterone (and estrogen—produced in small amounts in males) as they age.  Lower levels of these hormones may also contribute to bone loss.
Bone loss can result from the damaging effects of excess amounts of the hormone cortisol, a disorder known as Cushing’s syndrome. The adrenal glands can sometimes produce excess cortisol because of a pituitary gland tumor or other tumor. Cushing's syndrome most often develops as a result of long-term use of corticosteroid medications (steroids) such as prednisone and cortisone, used to treat inflammatory disorders like rheumatoid arthritis or asthma.
Hormone imbalances that may also increase the risk of osteoporosis include an overactive thyroid gland, diabetes, and hyperprolactinemia, in which the pituitary gland produces too much of the hormone prolactin. Thyroid cancer survivors whose treatment includes high doses of thyroid hormone also have a higher risk.
Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa increase the risk of osteoporosis. Bone loss can occur partly because of poor nutrition and, in women, partly because the ovaries stop functioning normally, producing less estrogen.

Find out more about the diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis and how you can reduced your risk. 


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