ZEPHYR / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ZEPHYR / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Osteoporosis of the spine. Coloured X-ray (side view) of the lumbar vertebrae of a 58 year old woman with osteoporosis. The vertebra second from bottom is significantly smaller than the others due to the disease, which is characterised by loss of bone density and deterioration of bone tissue. Osteoporosis mainly affects post-menopausal women. Diagnosis is usually not until after a fracture due to a minor incident, as there are no outward symptoms. Risk factors include a family history, smoking, heavy drinking, lack of oestrogen in women and lack of testosterone in men. A diet rich in calcium and regular weight bearing exercise can help prevent osteoporosis.
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