Risk factors for osteoporosis

Your family history

Any family history of osteoporosis
Any family history of fracture

Your race

White (fair skinned) and Asian

Your medical history

Rheumatoid arthritis
Over-active thyroid gland
Over-active parathyroid gland
Coeliac disease
Crohns disease, ulcerative colitis and other chronic gut diseases
Chronic liver disease
Chronic kidney disease
Low body mass
Conditions that cause long periods of immobility
Diabetes & HIV(AIDS)

For Women
If your periods have stopped for more than 6 months (excluding pregnancy, menopause, hysterectomy)
If you experienced an early menopause

For Men the following may indicate an increased risk
Impotence
Lack of libido
Other symptoms of low testosterone

Medication

Cortico-steroid use (including for asthma)
Anti epileptic drugs
Some Breast cancer treatments
Some Prostate cancer drugs
Injectable contraceptive drugs

Your lifestyle

Smoking
More than 2 units of alcohol per day
Diet low in Calcium
Low Vitamin D levels (perhaps due to lack of sunlight)
Excessively high and excessively low levels of exercise

General Advice about osteoporosis

Seek an early diagnosis as it is a very treatable and preventable disease. Most people only find out they have osteoporosis once they have had a fracture.

Try to include more cheese, milk and green vegetables in your diet to maintain calcium intake, if that is not possible consider a calcium supplement. Most adults are vitamin D deficient, which is necessary for calcium absorption, as they do not have enough sun-light exposure. It is very difficult to fulfil your vitamin D needs through diet alone so again consider a supplement.

It is not just a female condition.

Consider your family history and risk factors.

Try to take regular weight bearing exercise as this stresses the bones and encourages calcium to be deposited in them.

Treatment from your GP will be to strengthen the bones by medication. Often they will prescribe bisphosphonates which reduce the amount of calcium absorption from the bones.

How to assess bone density.

Axial Dexa (dual energy x-ray absorptiometry) scanning is regarded as the “Gold Standard” for diagnosing the condition, it uses a dual energy X-ray which passes over the body taking images of the spine and hips. The amount of absorption by the bone is measured and so the density of the bone can be determined. However, there is a chronic shortage of equipment which means there are about 45,000 eligible women for every available scanner in the entire country (this figure does not include the needs for any men). If every eligible woman went for a dexa scan it has been estimated that there would be a seven year waiting time. It has been calculated that there is a deficiency of dexa provision of more than 1/3 million people per annum in England alone. This figure does not include Scotland and Wales.