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Osteoporosis is the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time. An estimated 10 million Americans suffer from the disease. Most are women, but about 20 percent of cases occur in men. Another 34 million Americans have low bone mass, or osteopenia, which increases risk for osteoporosis. A common outcome of osteoporosis is bone fracture, often of the spine, hip, or wrist. While bone loss leading to fractures occurs gradually over years, people at any age can take steps to keep bones healthy.

Internet Resources

MedlinePlus: Osteoporosis
This National Library of Medicine portal links to extensive information about osteoporosis and how to manage it. The site is designed for health care consumers and includes both government and privately developed health information.

NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases: National Resource Center
This National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Web site provides information about degenerative bone diseases in both Chinese and English.

National Osteoporosis Foundation
The National Osteoporosis Foundation provides support, information, and assistance.

Medline Plus Patient Education Institute: Osteoporosis
This online tutorial (in interactive, self-playing or text versions) provides an overview of osteoporosis symptoms, causes, risk factors, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

FRAX: Fracture Risk Assessment Tool
Developed by the World Health Organization, this easy-to-use tool will let you know your ten-year risk for hip fracture and for a major fracture caused by osteoporotic bone.

Osteoporosis: Balancing Benefits and Risks of Pharmacologic Therapy
Lecture notes from a monthly forum presented by Northwestern University’s Institute for Women’s Health Research can be found at this link. The presenter is a gerontologist and bone health specialist, Beatrice Edwards MD.


  • Unique considerations of the female athlete. Brunet M. 2010.
  • Optimizing women’s health through nutrition. Thompson LU. 2008.
  • Osteoporosis Prevention, Diagnosis and Management. Notelovitz M. 2007.
  • 100 questions and answers about osteoporosis and osteopenia. Alexander IM. 2006.
  • Faces of osteoporosis. Davis A. 2006.
  • Current topics in osteoporosis. Deng H, ed. 2005.
  • Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Longe JL, ed. 2006. Available in print at the Health Learning Center or electronically at http://www.nmh.org/nm/health library virtual library.

Video Recordings

  • Mini-med school. Bones, joints & muscles. 4 videodiscs, 360 min.

Journal Articles

  • “Osteoporosis treatment options expand.” Mayo Clinic Health Letter. 28(11):4. Nov. 2010
  • “Boning up on osteoporosis medications.” Johns Hopkins Medical Letter, Health After 50, 22(3): 1-2, 7. May 2010.
  • “What to do about postmenopausal fracture risk. Diet, exercise, calcium, and vitamin D are always important, but women at high risk for fractures may need drug therapy, too. Harvard Womens Health Watch, 17(4): 1-3. December 2009.
  • “The male face of osteoporosis.” Harvard Health Letter, 35(1): 3. November 2009.
  • “Osteoporosis. Information from your family doctor.” American Family Physician, 79(3):201-2. February 2009.
  • “Osteoporosis quiz. A question of bone health.” Mayo Clinic Health Letter, 26(7):7. July 2008.


To see a visual comparison of osteoporotic and normal bone, click on this link http://www.iofbonehealth.org/newsroom/resources/image-normal-osteoporotic-bone.html.

Visit the Health Learning Centers at Northwestern Memorial Hospital to see and touch models of osteoporotic bone.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the Health Learning Center at 312.926.5465 or HLC@nmh.org.

Last UpdateDecember 22, 2011