Today, on World Osteoporosis Day, the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) calls on people of all ages to be proactive in taking steps for better bone health and osteoporosis prevention.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease that affects some 500 million people worldwide and is a major cause of pain, disability and loss of independence in older adults. Worldwide, one in three women and one in five men aged over 50 will sustain an osteoporotic fracture.
Most people who have osteoporosis don’t know their bones are getting progressively weaker - until they experience a first broken bone following just a minor slip or fall from standing height, or sometimes even from bending over to tie a shoelace.
“A spinal fracture or a broken hip can be life-changing. This is why early prevention of osteoporosis is so important. Although much of our bone density is determined by genetic factors, there are steps we can take to strengthen our bones and reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis and suffering a fracture in the future,” said IOF CEO Dr Philippe Halbout.
IOF recommends a five-step approach to better bone health and osteoporosis prevention.
Ensure a nutritious, balanced diet that includes enough calcium, protein and other important vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin D which is primarily made in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight, and which is contained in a limited number of foods.
Keep moving! Physical activity is absolutely vital to bone health. This is clear when one considers that adults who are confined to bed may lose as much bone in a week as they would otherwise lose in a year. Exercises that are weight-bearing and help to strengthen muscles are ideal. This can include anything from jogging and weight training to lower-impact exercises like walking or using elastic resistance bands. Practicing exercises that improve balance can help reduce the risk of falling. Generally, a minimum of 30-40 minutes of physical activity, two to three times a week, is recommended. Anyone who has osteoporosis should follow a targeted exercise plan as this is a key component of treatment alongside any prescribed medication.
Stop bone-damaging habits such as smoking and excessive alcohol intake.
Maintain a healthy body weight. Being underweight (generally a BMI below 19 kg/m2) is a risk factor. Of special concern are young people with eating disorders, as well as older adults with reduced appetites.
Finally, early awareness of any personal risk factors is critical. A broken bone after the age of 50, height loss of more than 4 cm/1½ in., and parental history of hip fracture – these are just several of the key risk factors which should prompt assessment. A DXA scan may be advised as a next step to help determine whether you have osteoporosis and whether treatment is needed.
The IOF Osteoporosis Risk Check, a simple online questionnaire, alerts to potential risk factors.
IOF President Professor Cyrus Cooper added:
“As osteoporotic fractures can have devastating and life-threatening consequences, we urge people of all ages to prioritise osteoporosis prevention. Discuss bone health with your doctor and don’t hesitate to ask for assessment and care if you are at risk. Remember, strong bones will help you stay mobile and independent as you age.”
World Osteoporosis Day, marked on October 20, calls for global action to fight osteoporosis and related fractures. www.worldosteoporosisday.org
WOD Partners: Amgen, Sunsweet, Zuellig Pharma, Abbott, Pharmanovia,Theramex
The International Osteoporosis Foundation is the world’s largest NGO dedicated to osteoporosis and fracture prevention. www.osteoporosis.foundation
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