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The phone rings. It is your grandma’s neighbor. She tells you that grandma fell and broke her hip this morning. It happened as she was walking back from the grocery store down the street. See, grandma is only 76 years young! She lives by herself in a retirement community. Grandpa passed away from colon cancer a few years ago. Grandma has been living independently since then. She enjoys gardening and playing cards with friends. The highlight of her day is to walk to the nearby store. That way she gets some exercise, stops and waves at acquaintances, chats with her neighbors and smell Mrs. Green’s beautiful roses. Sounds familiar? Yes, we have all heard of someone falling and breaking a hip unexpectedly. This can be a life-changing event. It may take away someone’s independence, at least for a while. Or in some cases a fall may cost the person’s life.


It is reported that every year, 350,000 hip fractures happen in the United States.  One in three women and one in five men will break a bone at some point after age 50. One in four adults who fracture a hip dies within a year. For those who survive, there is usually a clear moment where life is divided to “before” and “after” the fracture.


Your bones are at their best when you are about 30 years old. Everyone begins losing bone mass after that. The thicker your bones are at about age 30, the longer it takes to develop osteopenia or osteoporosis. Women are far more prone to bone loss compared to men. In general, women have a lower peak bone density at about age 30. Also, the hormonal changes at menopause speed up their bone loss. Since women live longer their bones age more and they have more incidences of bone fractures. Men who have low Testosterone are also at high risk for osteoporosis.


Osteopenia is the beginning stage of Osteoporosis. If you have osteopenia and ignore it, it may become more severe and turn into Osteoporosis. Here is a list of common factors which may contribute to bone loss in both men and women:

  1. Family history of osteoporosis– Some people are genetically prone. If grandma broke a hip, you should ask your doctor if you need a Bone Mineral Density (BMD) test
  2. Being too thin or having a small frame-A person with a body mass index of 18.5 or below is at higher risk for osteopenia and osteoporosis
  3. Race-Being white or Asian increases your chances of becoming osteoporotic
  4. Not enough physical activity-Exercise, especially strength training helps prevent bone loss. Remember: Stronger Muscles means Stronger Bones. Talk to your doctor or a personal trainer about exercises which will help your bone health
  5. Smoking– Studies have shown that tobacco use decreases bone density. In addition, smoking increases the risk of having a fracture and has been shown to have a negative effect on bone healing after a fracture
  6. Consuming cola drinks– Researchers at Tufts University studied several thousand men and women and found that women who regularly drank 3 or more cola-based sodas a day had almost 4% lower bone mineral density in the hip, even though researchers controlled for calcium and vitamin D intake. But women who drank non-cola soft drinks, like Sprite or Mountain Dew, didn’t seem to have lower bone density
  7. Alcohol-Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol may increase the risk of bone loss
  8. Poor diet/Limited intake of calcium and other essential nutrients (unhealthy diet)-Dairy products such as yogurt, cheese and milk, spinach, arugula, broccoli, figs, sesame seeds, dried beans, canned salmon with bones and sardines are great sources of calcium
  9. Certain medical conditions-Malabsorption, celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, anorexia, bulimia, low Testosterone levels in men, menopause and overactive thyroid disease may contribute to bone loss
  10. Radiation-Often used as part of cancer treatment, radiation may have toxic effects on bones and lead to bone loss
  11. Chemotherapy-Often used to treat cancers, chemotherapy can cause a reduction in the production of sex hormones which may lead to bone loss
  12. Certain medications-Be sure to read my next blog for a complete list plus more

Question: What do you think: Do you fall and then you brake your hip or does the bone break first and that is why you fall? 

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