Like the rest of the body, bone is constantly being broken down and renewed. It is living tissue that needs exercise to gain strength, just like muscle. Sex hormones, such as oestrogen and testosterone, have an essential role in maintaining bone strength in men and women. The fall in oestrogen that occurs during menopause results in accelerated bone loss. Although osteoporosis causes no specific pain or symptoms, when bone mineral density (BMD) is reduced it does increase the risk of serious or debilitating fractures.
There are many risk factors for osteoporosis:
- female sex
- age – your risk goes up as you get older
- hereditary link – Osteoporosis tends to run in families
- race – people of European and Asian background are most likely to get osteoporosis
- inadequate amounts of dietary calcium
- low vitamin D levels
- cigarette smoking
- alcohol intake of more than two standard drinks per day
- caffeine intake of more than three cups of tea, coffee or equivalent per day
- lack of weight bearing physical activity
- previous bone fractures or breaks
- early menopause (before the age of 45)
- long-term use of medications such as corticosteroids for rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.
Some conditions also place people at a higher risk of osteoporosis. These conditions include:
- thyroid disease or an overactive thyroid gland
- rheumatoid arthritis
- chronic liver and kidney disease
that affect the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, such as Crohn’s
disease, coeliac disease and other inflammatory bowel conditions.