The skeleton may very well be the most under-appreciated part of the human body – it is hidden, and largely ignored. That is, until a painful, debilitating and often life-changing fracture occurs due to osteoporosis. Someone with osteoporosis can suffer a broken bone after a mere slip on the pavement from standing height, or a bump or sudden movement.
Marking World Osteoporosis Day on October 20th, the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) and its 240 national societies worldwide are calling on the general public to ‘Love Your Bones – Protect your future’. Greater public awareness of the disease is needed for the simple reason that osteoporosis is a condition which, despite being very common among older adults, has no apparent symptoms until a fracture occurs. In the UK, fractures due to osteoporosis affect as many as one in two women and one in five men over [LM1] the age of 50.
Professor Cyrus Cooper, president of IOF, warns of the potential dangers of osteoporosis: “Many people don’t realize that fragility fractures often have very serious repercussions. Hip fractures, which largely affect seniors, are life-threatening, and result in a profound loss of function and independence – 33% percent become dependent or require nursing home care in the year following the fracture.”
No matter what your age, a bone-healthy lifestyle will help support good bone health. Adequate intake of dietary calcium, protein and other nutrients, sufficient vitamin D from safe sun exposure, as well as regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercise are several key pillars of prevention.
Unfortunately, too many men and women remain unaware that they have individual risk factors which place them at heightened risk of fragility fractures. If you are over 50 and have suffered one broken bone – in women, often a wrist fracture – you should request a bone health assessment. Among other factors known to increase osteoporosis risk are a family history of osteoporosis, early menopause, use of corticosteroid tablets for more than three consecutive months and certain disorders such as digestive diseases or rheumatoid arthritis. To learn more, take the IOF One-Minute Osteoporosis Risk Test at www.iofbonehealth.org.
In the UK, the National Osteoporosis Society (NOS), provides a wealth of information and support at www.nof.org.
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