Who is at risk of osteoporosis?

There are a number of reasons why a person may be more at risk of osteoporosis than others. Over a million Australians suffer from this condition,1 where bones become brittle and frail, and are therefore more likely to break. Theoretically, anyone can be at risk of this condition if they make unhealthy lifestyle decisions. This can include a range of lifestyle factors including low levels of physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, not enough calcium in the diet, being over or underweight and not getting enough vitamin D.1

However certain segments of the population are more prone to the condition than others. One of these groups is those with a family history of the condition. Bone health can be genetic so if anyone in your family has suffered a fracture from a minor fall, or has lost height with time, you may need to be extra wary.

Women, especially those over the age of 50, are more susceptible to osteoporosis. Frame size can be a significant contributing factor to osteoporosis, as a smaller frame means higher risk thanks to a smaller amount of bone mass to draw from as the body ages. This means while men with small frames may be more at risk than their larger counterparts, women generally have smaller skeletal structure and are therefore more often affected.2 Women also lose bone mass due to menopause, which is a major contributor to this condition.3 Men constitute roughly 20 per cent of the population with osteoporosis 3, so also need to keep an eye on their lifestyle choices, diet and symptoms of the illness.

Common indicators to look out for when initial investigations are undertaken by your healthcare professional may include monitoring of fractures following minor falls and rapid height loss.1 Of course, if you’re concerned about yourself or someone you know it doesn’t hurt to discuss the risk factors involved in osteoporosis and consider getting a vitamin D check sooner than later.