Osteoporosis Risk Factors

Know the Risk Factors for Osteoporosis


Around the world, one in three women and one in five men over the age of fifty will suffer a broken bone due to osteoporosis.

A risk factor is anything that increases your chances of developing osteoporosis.

There are some risk factors you can change and some that you cannot change.

Osteoporosis Risk Factors that Cannot be Changed

While the following are risks that cannot be changed, you can still be aware of them:



74% of fractures due to osteoporosis occur in women 65 years and older.



Women are more susceptible to bone loss than men. As many as 1 in 3 women over the age of 50 may experience osteoporosis fractures as opposed to only 1 in 5 men over the age of 50.


Family History

Having a close relative with a broken bone (especially a broken hip) or osteoporosis may be a risk factor. This is because genetics may contribute to peak bone mass and rate of bone loss.


Previous Fractures

People who have already sustained an osteoporotic fracture are almost twice as likely to have a second fracture compared to people who are fracture free.


Menopause / Hysterectomy

Oestrogen has a protective effect on bone therefore after menopause, women experience rapid bone loss. Women who have had a hysterectomy or early menopause (before 45 years) may also be at an increased risk.

Women with endometriosis may have lower bone density as a consequence of their disease. This is a disease in which the lining of the uterus grows on nearby tissues.


Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions may affect bone or increase the risk of fractures. This includes cancer, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, kidney or liver disease, multiple myeloma and rheumatoid arthritis.

Some of these medications include:
  • Glucocorticoids

    For asthma, allergies and autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. These include medications such as prednisone and dexamethasone.

    Chronic (longer than 3 months) glucocorticoid use is a major risk factor for the development of osteoporosis.

  • Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)

    Used for stomach ulcers and controlling gastric acidity. These include medications such as omeprazole, pantoprazole and lansoprazole.

    Use of PPIs for more than several years have demonstrated a small but significant risk of hip and vertebral fracture.

  • Anticoagulants

    Used as blood thinners.

    Osteoporosis is reversible upon discontinuation but the overall effect is unknown. Low molecular weight heparin are less likely than unfractioned heparin to cause osteoporosis.

    Warfarin-induced osteoporosis remains an area of conflicting evidence.

  • Antacids

    Used for controlling stomach acidity - Aluminium-containing antacids.

  • Thiazolidinediones

    Used to control Type II diabetes. Medications such as pioglitazone used for 4 years or longer may be associated with increased fracture risk in postmenopausal women.

  • Anticonvulsants

    For the control of epilepsy. These include medications such as phenytoin, phenobarbital, carbamazepine, valproate. The use of anticonvulsants is said to double the risk of osteoporosis.

  • Immunosuppressants

    For inhibiting the immune system, especially rheumatoid arthritis. These include medications such as ciclosporine, tacrolimus, methotrexate at high doses for prolonged periods.<

  • Others

    Vitamin A and retinoids (used to treat problem skin)

    Furosemide (used to treat high blood pressure and oedema<

    Certain cancer treatments (androgen-deprivation therapy, breast cancer chemotherapy).

Other risk factors for osteoporosis

While there are several risk factors that are out of your control, there are also several that are well within it.

This includes lifestyle choices such as poor nutrition, unhealthy body weight, smoking and drinking etc. You can take preventative measures for these risk factors and help avoid developing weak bones and osteoporosis.


It's never too late to start!

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