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This World Osteoporosis Day, Mary Kennedy, Irish Osteoporosis Society Ambassador, is Asking You to Prioritise Your Bone Health

Osteoporosis is a bone disease that develops when bone mineral density and bone mass decrease¹. This causes bones to become fragile and break more easily.  Osteoporosis is referred to as a silent disease because there are no signs or symptoms prior to a person breaking bones¹.

Women are most at risk from osteoporosis, particularly after menopause¹ and especially those aged over 65². Osteoporosis is massively underdiagnosed with up to 65% of women not knowing they have the disease³, putting them at risk of fracture with potentially life-changing injuries⁴. In Ireland, 7 out of 10 hip fractures happen to women⁵.  In addition to pain and suffering, hip fractures can be fatal for one-in-five women⁶. Prevention and early detection of this disease are extremely important.

There are many risk factors that contribute to osteoporosis. Some risk factors are out of your control, while there are others that you may be able to change¹. By understanding these factors, you may be able to prevent the disease and fractures.

Risk factors you can not change

  • Ageing – as you age your bone tissue naturally loses strength
  • Being a woman – osteoporosis is more common in women than men
  • Your genes – your genes determine the potential strength of your skeleton and bones
  • History of broken bones – if you have broken bones in the past you are much more likely to break them again in the future

Risk factors you can change

  • Low body weight – low body weight is more likely to mean less bone tissue
  • Smoking – slows down the cells that build bone tissue
  • Too much alcohol – can affect the cells that build up bone

Where to start looking after your bone health

Diet: An important part of treating osteoporosis is eating a healthy, balanced diet, which includes:

  • Plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • An appropriate number of calories for your age, height, and weight
  • Foods that include calcium, vitamin D, and protein, along with eating a full and balanced diet, can help to protect your bone health

Exercise is also extremely important to ensure healthy bones, especially regular weight-bearing exercise. It is rarely too late for people to start a bone-healthy exercise program, however, it must be appropriate and if possible individualised. Weight-bearing exercise and strength or resistance training can help to improve muscle strength and bone mass¹, as well as preventing muscle and bone loss and reduce the risk of falls in senior citizens. Research shows that the best physical activities for bone health include strength training or resistance training¹, however, these should be started slowly and increased gradually. Senior citizens who have never done strength or resistance training should initiate the movements without weight or resistance initially.

  • Build muscle mass and strength and improve coordination and balance. This can help lower your chance of falling
  • Improve daily function and delay loss of independence¹

For more information on how you can manage your bone health speak to your GP or contact us at the Irish Osteoporosis Society today on 01 637 5050.

This campaign has been supported and funded by Amgen.

Job Number: IE-NPS-0921-00008

Date of Prep: October 2021.

¹,or%20hunched%20posture%20(kyphosis). Accessed Sept 2021 
²Sweet et al. Diagnosis and Treatment of Osteoporosis. Am Fam Physician. 2009 Feb 1;79(3):193-200 
3 Cronin, H, O'Regan, C, Kenny, RA (2011). 'Physical And Behavioural Health Of Older Irish Adults' in Fifty Plus in Ireland 2007: First Results from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing. Dublin: TILDA, 93. DOI:  
⁴ Office of the Surgeon General (US). Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville (MD): Office of the Surgeon General (US); 2004. PMID: 20945569.
⁵ Irish Hip Fracture Database National Report 2016. National Office of Clinical Audit pp. 26 
⁶ Schnell S et al. The 1-Year Mortality of Patients Treated in a Hip Fracture Program for Elders Geriatr Orthop Surg Rehabil. 2010 pp 6 Accessed September 2021