When most people think about bone density and osteoporosis they automatically think about calcium and vitamin D. However there are other factors which can have a large impact on bone density and therefore fracture risk. Essentially healthy bone density requires a good balance between the cells that build new bone, and the ones that break…
While it is one of the most common conditions in Australia, Osteoporosis is often not well understood, even by those who are suffering from it. It currently affects 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men over 65 and currently costs almost 3.5 billion dollars every year. Even with a steady presence about it in the media, numbers are still on the rise.
Calcium and Osteoporosis
When you ask many people what the cause of Osteoporosis is, they will often say a lack of Calcium. Although this is not incorrect, it is not the full answer and this is where a greater understanding would help. Osteoporosis is actually a loss of bone mineral density, relative to the normal for your age. The calcium is an important part of the bone mineral density, but it is less than 60% of the make up of the bone.
So what is osteoporosis (in real people language, not just Dr speak)?
Osteoporosis is a commonly misunderstood condition, which is frightening considering how common and debilitating it is. Many people refer to osteoporosis as a lack of calcium, however it is bone density that is lacking, of which calcium makes up a large part. With the loss of bone density, bones aren’t as strong as they should be, leading to an increased risk of a fracture.
When people think about Osteoporosis they often think of a condition that predominantly affects women and is rare in men. Yes, Osteoporosis is more prevalent in females, however it is not rare in men, with approximately 250,000 Australian men suffering from Osteoporosis.
It is important that we recognise the prevalence in men because one in five men over 50 will be affected by an osteoporotic fracture and when these fractures do occur in men, they are more likely to lead to disability and mortality than when they occur in women.