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Risk factors for osteoporosis

Osteoporosis affects women and men. Over 1 million people in Australia have osteoporosis.

Women are at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis because of the rapid decline in oestrogen levels during menopause. When oestrogen levels decrease, the bones lose calcium and other minerals at a much faster rate. As a result bone loss of approximately 2% per year occurs for several years after menopause.

Men also lose bone as they age, however testosterone levels in men decline more gradually so their bone mass remains adequate till later in life.

However, both men and women may have certain ‘risk factors’ that make them more likely to develop osteoporosis. People should discuss risk factors with their doctor and anyone over 50 with risk factors may require a bone density scan.

Your family history:
Bone health may be strongly inherited. Consider your family history of osteoporosis. It is important to note if anyone in your family (particularly parents or siblings) had diagnosed osteoporosis, sustained fractures from minor falls or rapidly lost height as these can indicate low bone density.

Your calcium and vitamin D levels:
• Low calcium intake
Adults require 1,000 mg per day (preferably through diet) and this increases to 1,300 mg per day in women over 50 and men over 70.

• Low vitamin D levels
A lack of sun exposure can mean you are not getting enough vitamin D, which your body needs to absorb calcium.

Your medical history:
Certain conditions and medications can increase impact on your bone health

• Corticosteroids – commonly used for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions

• Low hormone levels 
 - in women: delayed puberty, early menopause
 - in men: low testosterone

Thyroid conditions – over active thyroid or parathyroid

• Conditions leading to malabsorption eg: celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease

• Some chronic diseases eg: rheumatoid arthritis, chronic liver or kidney disease

• Some medicines for breast cancer, prostate cancer, epilepsy and some antipsychotics

• The following symptoms may also indicate an increased risk of osteoporosis.

Lifestyle factors:
• Low levels of physical activity
• Smoking
• Excessive alcohol intake
• Weight - thin body build or excessive weight (recent studies suggest that hormones associated with obesity may impact bones)

Heart disease is preventable.
Regular, moderate physical activity is good for your heart. Physical activity can help control other risk factors such as high blood pressure and being overweight. For health benefits you should aim to include at a least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (such as brisk walking) on most if not all of the days of the week. The amount of activity can be accumulated in shorter bouts, such as three 10-minute walks. 

If you enjoy regular physical activity, it’s likely you will:
•  Live longesd muscles
•  Feel more confident, happy, relaxed and able to sleep better

Physical strength really does give you a new lease on life, 

Fit For Life