Millions of Americans have osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones. Millions more are at risk for osteoporosis. But it can be prevented. Do you know how to protect your bones and help keep them healthy? Take this quiz and find out.
True or false: If your bones were weak, you'd know it.
False. Many people have weak bones but don't know it. Osteoporosis is often called a silent disease: Its first sign may be a broken bone. That's why it's important to ask your doctor if you should have a quick, safe and painless bone density test to see how strong your bones are.
True or false: Exercise makes bones stronger.
True. Like muscle, bone is a living tissue that grows stronger with exercise. The best physical activities for healthy bones are weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, climbing stairs and lifting weights.
True or false: Smoking cigarettes hurts bones.
True. Most studies show that smoking cigarettes raises the risk of osteoporosis, although it's not clear why. And people who smoke may take longer to heal from a broken bone. If you smoke, a great way to protect your bones is to quit.
True or false: As you grow older, you can't prevent your bones from becoming weak.
False: You can take steps at any age to help keep bones strong—it's never too late or too early. For example, it's always important to eat a well-balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D. if you're concerned that you may not be getting enough of these nutrients, ask your doctor about taking a supplement.
True or false: Osteoporosis is only a problem for women.
False. Although women are at greater risk for osteoporosis, men get it too. Up to 1 in 4 men over 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis. Men of this age are more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.
True or false: Certain medicines can harm bones.
True. Some common medicines can make bones weaker. Medications on the list include steroids used to treat asthma and arthritis, as well as certain antiseizure and cancer drugs. If you take one of these medicines, ask your doctor how you can protect your bones.
There are many ways to protect your bones, even when you've been diagnosed with osteoporosis. With help from a doctor, you can take steps to adopt healthy bone habits and follow a treatment plan that works for you.
Sources: National Institutes of Health; National Osteoporosis Foundation