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Bone Up on Osteoporosis

It's never too early to learn about it

(HealthDayNews) -- More than two-thirds of the 28 million Americans at high risk for osteoporosis are women, but many don't undergo bone density tests until they reach menopause. By then, it can be too late to effectively slow the process that causes bones to become brittle and break easily.

Ideally, women with significant risk factors should get tested for bone density between ages 21 and 35 -- when the body is still building bone and lifestyle changes can do the most good, advises the director of bone densitometry at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

What are the risk factors? Being female, Caucasian or Asian, being thin or underweight, having a family history of osteoporosis, being anorexic or not having regular menstrual cycles.

Some immediate steps you can take to prevent osteoporosis: take enough calcium and vitamin D, exercise, quit smoking and avoid excessive alcohol or caffeine.

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