Is osteoporosis hereditary?

Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become less dense and more fragile, increasing the susceptibility to fractures. It’s a growing health problem that affects over one million Australians.1There are numerous factors of genetic and non-genetic origins that may put a person at risk of developing osteoporosis at some point in their life.

Our bone health appears to be largely dependent on the genes we inherit. If someone in your family,especially a parent or sibling, has been diagnosed with osteoporosis, has broken a bone from a minor fall, or has rapidly lost height, this may indicate low bone density, and potentially increase your risk of developing the condition.1 Although bone mass appears to be largely affected by genetics, there are other factors involved. Importantly, if someone is genetically predisposed to osteoporosis, these other influences become even more important for the maintenance of bone health.

Other risk factors of osteoporosis

  • Inadequate amounts of calcium in the diet
  • Low levels of vitamin D
  • Caffeine intake of more than three cups of tea, coffee or equivalent per day2
  • Smoking2
  • Alcohol intake of more than two standard drinks per day2
  • Your medical history – certain conditions and medicines can impact on the health of your bones
  • Having a thin body build or carrying excess weight1
  • Leading a sedentary lifestyle1
  • Menopause – The rapid decrease in oestrogen that occurs with menopause speeds up the rate of bone loss and can increase a woman’s risk of developing osteoporosis. This is especially relevant to women whose bone density is less than ideal in the years leading up to menopause.3

If you’re concerned that you’re at risk of developing osteoporosis, especially if you’re over the age of 50, consult your healthcare professional. They may recommend regular bone density scans and advise suitable treatment where necessary.