How may cancer affect my risk for osteoporosis?

Risk factors for osteoporosis can be related to the type of cancer you had, your treatment, or the way your body responded to treatment. Specifically, risks may exist for survivors of certain types of cancers and treatments that could spread to the bone such as:
  • Breast cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Multiple myeloma (cancer that occurs in the antibody-producing white blood cells)
  • Other solid tumor types such as lung, testicular, ovarian, and endometrial (uterine wall) cancers
Treatment for some cancers, such as breast or prostate cancer, can include blocking or eliminating certain hormones in your body. Blocking sex hormones helps kill the cancer cells. However, the sex hormones also help protect the bones. If your body is deprived of these hormones, osteoporosis can develop. This does not mean that you should not receive this type of treatment because it may be the most effective way to treat your type of cancer. If you received or will receive this type of treatment, talk with your doctor about things that can be done to prevent or minimize bone loss.

If you develop osteoporosis, it does not mean that the healthcare team did not do a good job treating your cancer. The primary goal of your healthcare team is to treat your cancer in the most effective way possible. They can now work with you to manage any aftereffects you might experience.

There are also risk factors for osteoporosis that may not be related to cancer or treatment including:
  • Health problems such as hyperthyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes
  • Family history of breast cancer
  • Small body frame or low body weight
  • Advanced age
  • Being female -- osteoporosis is more likely to occur in women
  • Ethnicity -- Caucasians and Asians generally have a higher risk
  • Low testosterone levels in men
  • Certain medications that are taken for a long time
  • Low intake of calcium and vitamin D
  • Too much caffeine
  • Too little or too much exercise
  • Smoking
  • Drinking too much alcohol

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.