You may never have heard of osteoporosis – a condition where the bones weaken, making them fragile and more likely to break – but with 3 million people in the UK affected, it’s worth being aware.
Even if you’re not at risk, keeping your bones strong is vital to your health and your ability to stay active. In this LV= Life Insurance article, experts share their advice on how to recognise the symptoms of osteoporosis, keep your bones healthy and support those who are affected.
According to the Royal Osteoporosis Society charity (@RoyalOsteoSoc), or ROS, factors that increase a person’s risk include:
Although osteoporosis is more common in elderly people, bones generally start losing their density and strength around the age of 35 – those who are at the most risk are people whose bones lose their density quickly.
Those over the age of 50 have the highest chance of being affected by osteoporosis . According to ROS, one in three women and one in five men in this age category will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), there are also extra factors that could increase the risk of osteoporosis in women, such reaching menopause or a hysterectomy before the age of 45, and over-exercising or dieting causing absent periods.
ROS recommends the following for all ages:
On the other hand, unhealthy levels of eating or alcohol consumption, long periods of inactivity and eating disorders can also increase your risk
ROS offers the following advice:
‘Fear of falling can mean some people avoid activities and go out less, which can affect their confidence, independence and overall quality of life,’ adds Sarah. ‘Just keeping active throughout the day can not only keep your bones strong, but also improve your sense of well-being, lift your mood and reduce pain caused by muscle tension.’
While not all the risk factors can be controlled, there are things you can do to help prevent osteoporosis, such as staying active and maintaining a healthy diet. Plus, it’s good to know that there are people and organisations you can turn to if you’re worried about bone health or are supporting a family member with the condition.
As well as ROS, the NHS have some useful resources on osteoporosis, while the International Osteoporosis Foundation are also researching the condition.
 Melton LJ, 3rd, Atkinson EJ, O'Connor MK, et al. (1998), IOF FACTS AND STATISTICS, International Osteoporosis Foundation, https://www.iofbonehealth.org/facts-statistics