Updated 09 July 2014

Interesting facts about osteoporosis

Most people, when they hear the word "osteoporosis", think of older women and brittle bones and hip fractures. But that's not always the case.

Most people, when they hear the word "osteoporosis", think of older women and brittle bones and hip fractures.

  • The word "osteoporosis" comes from the Greek words "osteon" meaning bone, and "poros", meaning a pore or a passage.
  • Osteoporosis is not a condition exclusive to the elderly – it can strike at any age.
  • Caucasians and Asians have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis than other people do.
  • People who drink a lot of coffee and alcohol and who smoke cigarettes, are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis than others are.
  • In western populations, the statistics are that one in two women and one in four men could suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.
  • The rate of hip fractures is two to three times higher in women than in men.
  • People who are thin or who have a small frame, are at greater risk for osteoporosis.
  • Women can lose up to 20% of their bone mass in the 5 – 7 years following menopause.
  • Hormone replacement therapy used to be prescribed on the long-term for postmenopausal women, but it is now thought to carry risks for heart health if taken in the long-term.
  • Men tend to develop osteoporosis 10 – 15 years later than women do, because they are generally bulkier and have more bone mass to lose.
  • Exercise will help to maintain your bone mass. Being inactive increases the rate of bone mass in both men and women.
  • Osteoporosis can be prevented by, among others, eating a diet rich in calcium (1000 – 1500mg/day) when you are young. This will make sure you reach peak bone mineral density.
  • Among those who fracture their hip, 12 to 20% die within one year after the fracture and more than 50% of the survivors are unable to return to independent living.
  • People who have suffered from an eating disorder, such as anorexia, are more prone to developing osteoporosis.
  • Taking corticosteroids for long periods, predisposes someone to developing osteoporosis.

(Reference: National Osteoporosis Foundation of South Africa)


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Healthy Bones

Tereza is the CEO of the National Osteoporosis Foundation and worked as a Nursing Sister in the field of Osteoporosis for 18 years prior to her appointment with the Foundation. She used to be the Educational Officer for the Foundation and co-wrote the patient brochure on Osteoporosis. Read more

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