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There are a number of diseases and conditions that may cause bone loss, as well as some medical procedures that increase the likelihood of osteoporosis. These include autoimmune disorders, digestive and gastrointestinal disorders, cancer, hematologic or blood disorders, neurological or nervous system disorders, blood and bone marrow disorders, mental illness, endocrine or hormonal disorders, and various other diseases and conditions. Some medicines can also cause bone loss, especially those taken in high doses or over a long period of time.

Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, and ankylosing spondylitis are considered to be predisposing factors for osteoporosis. In rheumatoid arthritis, for example, the body’s defense system attacks the joints and bones, often in the hands and feet. Similarly, sufferers of lupus may experience muscle pain and swollen joints, making them more likely to break bones and develop osteoporosis.

Digestive and gastrointestinal disorders associated with osteoporosis include celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, short bowel syndrome, chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and weight loss surgery. This is in part due to malabsorption and maldigestion of nutrients necessary for bone health and maintenance, like calcium and vitamin D. In addition, factors such as smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, hypogonadism, and a family history of osteoporosis may increase the risk of osteoporosis in individuals with digestive and gastrointestinal disorders.

Certain types of cancer can also cause osteoporosis, namely breast cancer, prostate cancer, multiple myeloma, and lung cancer. The reason for this is the effect of cancer on the skeleton as well as the effects of cancer treatments on bone cells. Take breast cancer as an example, in which patients experience a loss of ovarian function together with a drop in estrogen levels. Since estrogen has a protective effect on bones, a reduced level of this hormone can lead to bone loss, thereby increasing the risk of an osteoporotic fracture.

Hematological diseases and blood disorders include leukaemia and lymphoma, anemia, sickle cell disease, conditions related to HIV, and complications from chemotherapy or transfusions. There is evidence to support that such hematopoietic insufficiencies can lead to the development of osteoporosis, due to the constant excessive need for blood cell production. In addition, some suggest that chronic blood loss is also related to osteoporosis.

Neurological or nervous system disorders are related to osteoporosis in that numbness, tingling, weakness, difficulty walking, and problems with balance put individuals at an increased risk of falling and breaking bones. Some of these conditions include kyphosis and hyperkyphosis, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and various other spinal cord injuries.

The relationship between mental illness and osteoporosis comes down to stress and bone loss. For example, an overactive immune system in depressed individuals may make too many inflammatory chemicals, thereby promoting bone loss. In addition to this psychological stress in depression, bone loss can result from physical stress in eating disorders, particularly anorexia nervosa, which can induce early onset of osteoporosis.

As for medical procedures linked to osteoporosis, both gastrointestinal bypass procedures and a gastrectomy can lead to osteoporosis. In addition, AIDS and HIV, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, female athlete triad, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, organ transplants, polio and post-polio syndrome, malnutrition, scoliosis, and weight loss can all increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis.


What is Osteoporosis and What Causes It?