Osteoporosis Risk Factors

Osteoporosis Risk Factors

Will I Get Osteoporosis?

It is important to note that osteoporosis is a disease that can affect both men and women and is extremely prevalent with reports that somewhere over one million people in Australia have osteoporosis. Although women are at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis as a result of menopause and the associated rapid decline in post-menopausal oestrogen levels that occurs it is important to note that osteoporosis doesn’t just affect women. Testosterone levels in males also decline with increasing age, however decline more gradually than post-menopausal oestrogen levels do in women. As a result males bone mass typically remains adequate till later in life and are less likely to suffer the disease but are not “immune” from developing osteoporosis.
There are multiple ‘risk factors’ that can leave an individual (male or female) more likely to develop osteoporosis these risk factors could be considered to be lifestyle related, as well as medically related.

Osteoporosis Risk Factors: Lifestyle Factors

These osteoporosis risk factors associated with lifestyle apply across both men and women:

  • Body mass – either being of thin body build or carrying excessive weight are considered risk factors. More recent studies have suggested that hormones associated with obesity may impact bones and bone density.
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Low levels of physical activity as loading the body and it’s tissues helps build in the younger years and maintain in latter years an individuals bone density.
  • Low dietary calcium and vitamin D levels. The body needs Vitamin D to absorb calcium, so a chronic lack of sun exposure is considered a potential osteoporosis risk factor if not supplemented appropriately through diet.

Family And Medical History Risk Factors

A family history of osteoporosis can be significant as bone health can be inherited, therefore a family history of osteoporosis in a parent or sibling is relevant. Certain medical conditions and medications can also have a negative impact on bone health, including:

  • Thyroid conditions
  • Coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease – conditions that lead to malabsorption.
  • Low hormone levels – early menopause in women and low testosterone levels in men.
  • Extended use of corticosteroid medications such as those used in managing asthma and chronic inflammatory conditions.

Specific Osteoporosis Risk Factors For Men

The male hormone testosterone helps men maintain strong bones. Therefore low testosterone levels in men can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis and suffering subsequent osteoporosis related fractures. Some men will lose testosterone at an accelerated rate as they age and certain prescribed medications can impact testosterone levels. The good news is men with low testosterone levels can improve their bone density with testosterone replacement therapy.

Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic provides this information as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance on Osteoporosis Risk Factors should consult his or her general practitioner, physiotherapist, medical specialist, or otherwise appropriately skilled practitioner.