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What are the causes of bone density loss?

Updated July 20, 2017

Bones are resilient, dynamic living tissues that carry us throughout life. Bone density is the term that indicates the measurement of strength or loss of bone material. Bones undergo a continuous process of bone remodelling. The active, living tissues in bone constantly releases old bone material in exchange for new. Some bone density loss is normal, but if bone density loss is great, there might be an underlying cause to consider. According to the National Health Services, a variety of diseases can produce bone density loss, as can factors such as medicine usage and lack of weight-bearing exercise.

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Beverages and medications

In October of 2006, researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in America found that bone density loss is associated with fizzy cola consumption in females. This loss occurs regardless of other bone density risk factors such as alcohol use, smoking cigarettes, lack of calcium intake and vitamin D or menopausal status. From Medical News Today, Dr. Katherine Tucker, Jean Mayer and colleagues documented the association of fizzy cola beverage consumption and bone density loss. The study focused on females who consumed fizzy cola an average of five times per week. The results were similar, although bone density loss was milder for those studied who consumed diet fizzy cola or decaffeinated cola.

In addition to fizzy cola, certain prescribed medications, such as steroid medications, change and negatively affect the metabolism of calcium and the bones. Although steroid medications are effective treatment for various conditions such as asthma, arthritis, lupus and so forth, bone density loss occurs rapidly after only the first six months of use. For patients using long-term steroids, the risks are bone density loss, osteoporosis and broken bones.

Hormone levels

Hormones regulate many body processes throughout life, yet bone density loss might occur from more than just the loss of the hormone oestrogen after menopause for women or testosterone in men. According to L. Sun, Y. Peng, et al. in an article titled "FSH Directly Regulates Bone Mass: Implications for Understanding the Pathogenesis of Osteoporosis Due to Hypogonadism," published April 21, 2006, researchers who studied bone loss in mice determined that the absence of a pituitary hormone known as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) causes bone density loss, regardless of other hormone levels. Mice whose oestrogen were at normal levels, but were low in FSH, suffered bone density loss. The findings indicate that a correlation exists between low FSH levels and bone density loss.


Several diseases are responsible for bone density loss in adults, including cystic fibrosis, autoimmune disorders, some allergic disorders and idiopathic hypercalciuria. Idiopathic hypercalciuria is the most common hypercalciuria and found in patients with a tendency to lose calcium from bone. Hypercalciuria is the term for urinary calcium excretion that exceeds 150 mg in an adult female, more than 200 mg in an adult male, or more than 4 mg/kg/d in a child who weighs less than 60 kg, within a 24-hour period.

Diseases that interfere with the absorption of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D affect bone density. Adolescents who develop diseases that interfere with estrogen or testosterone production become at risk for bone density loss as well as adults. These hormone-disrupting diseases in adolescents include anorexia nervosa, cancer, Turner’s syndrome, which is absence of one sex chromosome, Kallman’s syndrome, which is limited functioning of the glands that produce sex hormones, or Klinefelter’s syndrome, which occurs in males who have an extra X sex chromosome. Adolescents who are at risk for bone density loss include those that have had chronic illnesses that interfere with the onset of puberty.

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About the Author

Suzann Connell is an accomplished writer with more than 15 years of freelance experience. Her work has been published through Pearson Education and Prentice-Hall. Connell received her Doctor of Philosophy in holistic nutrition and her Master of Arts in instructional design.

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