GWEN SHOCKEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GWEN SHOCKEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Illustration of a human female skeleton degenerating due to osteoporosis. The degeneration, seen from left to right over time, is the loss of height and the backwards curvature (kyphosis) of the spine. Osteoporosis is a condition where loss of bone mass causes a reduction in the bone density. It is most common in woman after the menopause because they no longer produce the hormone estrogen that helps to retain bone mass. The loss of height and kyphosis occur due to the spinal bones (vertebrae) collapsing as they weaken due to the osteoporotic loss of bone mass. At the bottom is a close up of bone comparing a normal dorsal vertebra (left) and one showing the effects of osteoporosis (right).
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