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  • Writer's pictureIan Thornley

Osteoporosis - What is it?

Bone strength is important as we age and one condition you may have heard of which has an effect on this is osteoporosis.

The word itself tells you what happens - Osteo - bone and Porosis - porus. The inside of a bone has a honeycomb structure which adds to the strength of the bone, helping it to resist fractures and breaks. In osteoporosis the gaps in the honeycomb become larger, hence the density of the bone decreases. This happens when the rate your body builds and repairs bone reduces and becomes less than the rate at which the bone needs to be repaired and replaced. This has the effect of the bones becoming more susceptible to being fractured if you slip or fall.

There are many factors which can affect how likely you are to develop osteoporosis - some which you can do something about and some that you can't.

For example, being female and increasing age put you at a higher risk of osteoporosis - not something you can do anything about. However other risk factors such as smoking, nutrition and being prone to slips and falls are all things you can change to both reduce the risk of osteoporosis and also the impact on your life of having lower bone density.

Stopping smoking and reducing or eliminating alcohol intake, for example can be beneficial, both for bone density and also reducing the risk of falls.

In this series of blogs I will look in more detail at the effect of nutrition and exercise and how you can start to control some of the avoidable risks and mitigate some of the non-avoidable ones.

The next blog will look at some risk factors for osteoporosis related to nutrition.

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