Only a minority of patients at fracture risk will be diagnosed with osteoporosis, which can lead to life-threatening fractures.

‘Love Your Bones – Protect your future’ is the theme of On World Osteoporosis Day (WOD) on Friday, 20 October,

According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), osteoporosis is a neglected musculoskeletal disease.

Unlike a patient with high blood pressure who would normally receive treatment to protect against possible cardiovascular events, only a minority of patients at fracture risk will be diagnosed and receive treatment to protect against potentially devastating, life-changing and even life-threatening fractures.

Fractures due to osteoporosis affect one in three women

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World Osteoporosis Day aims to remind us that maintaining strong, healthy bones is the key to an active and independent future.

The facts

As we age, some of our bone cells dissolve (resorption) and new bone cells grow back (formation). This process is known as ‘remodelling’.

For people with osteoporosis, the loss outpaces the growth of new bone cells. Bones become porous, brittle and prone to fracture.

Here are some key facts:

  • Worldwide, fractures due to osteoporosis affect one in three women, and one in five men, aged 50 or over
  • The impact of fragility fractures on health and quality of life is too often underestimated. Hip fractures are particularly life-threatening, and invariably result in loss of function and independence among survivors
  • For women, osteoporosis accounts for more days in hospital than breast cancer, myocardial infarction, diabetes and other diseases
  • With the ageing of the population, osteoporotic hip fractures are expected to increase by 310% in men and 240% in women from 1990 to 2050
  • Despite widely available diagnostic tools and effective medication, osteoporosis too often remains undiagnosed and untreated

Who is at risk?

According to the IOF, one in three women and one in five men over the age of 50 will be affected by osteoporosis in their lifetime.

Fixed risk factors

Although fixed risk factors cannot be changed, people need to be aware of them so that they can take steps to reduce bone mineral loss.

  • Older age
  • Female gender
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Previous fracture
  • Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic ethnicity
  • Menopause/hysterectomy
  • Long-term glucocorticoid therapy
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Primary/secondary hypogonadism in men

Modifiable risk factors

  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Low body mass index
  • Poor nutrition
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Eating disorders
  • Insufficient exercise
  • Low dietary calcium intake
  • Frequent falls

You can take action to reduce the modifiable risks and, although there is no way to control the fixed risks, there are strategies that can lessen their effect.

Are you at risk?

Click here to take the IOF One Minute Osteoporosis Risk Awareness Test and find out if you are at risk.


  • Ensure a nutritious diet and adequate calcium intake 
  • Avoid under-nutrition, particularly the effects of severe weight-loss diets and eating disorders
  • Maintain an adequate supply of vitamin D
  • Participate in regular weight-bearing activity
  • Avoid smoking and second-hand smoking
  • Avoid heavy drinking

For information, visit

SourceInternational Osteoporosis Foundation

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