What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become fragile and brittle, leading to a higher risk of fractures than in normal bone. It occurs when bones lose minerals, such as calcium, more quickly than the body can replace them, leading to a loss of bone mass or density. Currently 23% (almost a quarter) of all people with osteoporosis are men.
There are four main factors that can help you determine your risk of osteoporosis:
- Family history of osteoporosis, as bone strength is strongly inherited
- Low calcium and vitamin D levels
- Your personal medical history - some medications and conditions like coeliac disease and rheumatoid arthritis can impact your bone health
- Lifestyle factors, including low levels of physical activity, smoking, excessive drinking, a thin body type, or obesity
Be aware of low testosterone:
The male hormone testosterone helps maintain strong bones, so low testosterone levels can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis and breaking a bone. Some men lose testosterone as they age and certain medications, like therapy for prostate cancer (eg: androgen deprivation therapy), can affect testosterone levels. Men with testosterone deficiency or low testosterone levels can improve their bone density with testosterone replacement.
Osteoporosis is diagnosed by combining information about your medical history with a physical exam and some specific tests for osteoporosis.
Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium is essential for building and maintaining bone. The best way to get the recommended level of calcium intake for your age is to eat a diet rich in calcium. You should also ensure an adequate level of sun exposure for vitamin D, which your body needs to absorb calcium. In Australia, we need to balance the risk of skin cancer from too much sun exposure with maintaining adequate vitamin D levels.
Regular exercise is recognized as one of the most effective lifestyle strategies to help make bones as strong as possible, reducing the risk of fractures later in life. Exercise must be regular and ongoing to have a proper benefit and maintain bone density; it should be done at least three times a week.
There are specific medications for people diagnosed with Osteoporosis. Consult your GP for further advice.
For more information about osteoporosis, contact our Free Infoline on 1800 011 041