The Major Cause of Osteoporosis (It’s Not Calcium Deficiency)

Spongy bone tissue affected by osteoporosisOsteoporosis is a major health concern and is unfortunately on the rise. We often think of calcium deficiency as a cause, and this can certainly play a role, especially if you’re not getting enough in you diet or if you have digestive problems and cannot absorb it properly.

But an even bigger culprit, and one that is not often discussed, is inflammation.

The following is from a study in the Journal of Endocrinology titled, “Bone Loss in Inflammatory Disorders.

Chronic inflammatory diseases of almost any cause are associated with bone loss. Bone loss is due to direct effects of inflammation, poor nutrition, reduced lean body mass, immobility and the effects of treatments, especially glucocorticoids. These mechanisms are complex and interrelated but are ultimately mediated through effects on the bone remodeling cycle. Inflammatory disease can increase bone resorption, decrease bone formation but most commonly impacts on both of these processes resulting in an uncoupling of bone formation from resorption in favor of excess resorption.”

Basically what it’s saying is that inflammation causes bone to break down and inhibits it’s remodeling, or growth. This makes sense considering that post menopausal women are at risk.

During menopause, estrogen levels drop significantly. When estrogen decreases, inflammation increases. This is a natural process, but when we take into account that inflammation is rampant and driven by modern lifestyles and diet, it’s easy to see how this excess can create a problem.

Chronic inflammation, as we know, is also associated with conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, brain disease, autoimmune disease, IBS and Diabetes.

Some common causes of chronic inflammation are:

  • Standard American Diet (S.A.D.)
  • Diets high in sugar
  • Diets high in processed foods
  • Vegetable oils (except olive and coconut)
  • Diets low in fruits and vegetables
  • Smoking
  • Toxins in food, water, cleaning products, environment
  • Certain drugs (always consult with your physician about drugs)
  • Lack of exercise
  • Dehydration
  • Essential fatty acid deficiency
  • Stealth infections/imbalance in gut flora
  • Lack of sleep

Here are some interesting facts directly from the International Osteoporosis Foundation (for the complete list with references, click the link to visit the website):

  • Worldwide, 1 in 3 women over age 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures, as will 1 in 5 men aged over 50.
  • By 2050, the worldwide incidence of hip fracture in men is projected to increase by 310% and 240% in women, compared to rates in 1990.
  • Prolonged use of corticosteroids is the most common cause of secondary osteoporosis. It is estimated that 30-50% of patients on long term corticosteroid therapy will experience fractures with an increased in risk of hip fracture by 2-fold in women and 2.6-fold in men.
  • Physical inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle as well as impaired neuromuscular function (e.g., reduced muscle strength, impaired gait and balance) are risk factors for developing fragility fractures.
  • Proton pump inhibiting drugs can reduce the absorption of calcium from the stomach and long term use of these drugs can significantly increase the risk of an osteoporosis-related fracture.
  • Some young females, particularly those training for elite athletic competition, exercise too much, eat too little, and consequently experience amenorrhea which makes them at risk for low bone mass and fractures.
  • Smoking can lead to lower bone density and higher risk of fracture and this risk increases with age.
  • A high intake of alcohol confers a significant risk of future fracture (e.g., over 4 units of alcohol/day can double the risk of hip fracture). The risk of vertebral and hip fractures in men increases greatly with heavy alcohol intake, particularly with long term intake.
  • Use of anxiolytics, sedatives, neuroleptics and antidepressants has been shown to increase risk of hip fracture.

It’s also interesting to note that use of certain common medications can be a major contributor and risk factor for osteoporosis. For any questions regarding medications and potential side effects, always consult with your physician.

As always, look at lifestyle first. Is your diet one that promotes inflammation? Are getting enough essential nutrients? Is your gut functioning properly and allowing you to absorb and use nutrients? Do you lead a sedentary or active lifestyle? Are you overtraining? Do you get enough rest? Are you taking medication that increases the risk of osteoporosis?

You have the power to control inflammation, and therefore control or prevent the conditions it leads to. What changes can you make to better your odds and reduce your risk of suffering in the future?

For more information on functional testing, finding and addressing the root causes of illness and optimizing your health with the latest science-based, natural and effective methods, visit


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

The information in this email is the opinion of Robert Inesta, DC, L.Ac, CFMP, CCSP of Westchester Sports and Wellness, DC, PC based on his research and experience. It is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Dr. Inesta encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. The information and products mentioned in this email are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Dr. Robert Inesta DC, L.Ac, CFMP, CCSP