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Osteoporosis: When Bones Break Down

What is Osteoporosis?

What is Osteoporosis?

The word osteoporosis translates to "porous bones" in Greek. Osteoporosis is a crippling disease that occurs when bones become so weak and brittle that even mild stress, like a fall or fitful cough, can cause a broken bone (also called fracture). People with significantly less bone mineral density (2.5 standard deviations) than the average, young, healthy adult are diagnosed with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis leads to an increased risk for bone fractures, especially in the wrist, hip and spine.

By Katherine Solem, published April 26, 2011. Katherine Solem is a San Francisco-based health writer and editor.