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Understanding Which Risk Factors for Osteoporosis Can Change

Allison Inserro
Which risk factors of osteoporosis can be modified, and which cannot? With osteoporosis causing more than 9 million fractures globally, understanding how to prevent it can reduce this growing threat to a rapidly aging population, researchers recently reported.
Which risk factors of osteoporosis can be modified, and which cannot? With osteoporosis causing more than 9 million fractures globally, understanding how to prevent it can reduce this growing threat to a rapidly aging population, researchers recently reported.

It is estimated that the annual worldwide hip fracture occurrence will increase up to 6 times by 2050 as compared with 1990, they said. 

In a recent review, researchers noted various modifiable risk factors. They include: 
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Weight loss
  • Smoking
  • Consuming alcohol
  • A lack of physical activity
  • Being a fall risk
I​​​ncluding a high intake of dairy products, as well as fruits and whole grains, may improve bone health, the researchers said. However, there appear to be some conflicting studies about alcohol’s effect on bone health. The Osteoporosis Risk Factor and Prevention-Fracture Prevention Study suggested that low-to-moderate alcohol intake may have protective effects. But another analysis found that light alcohol consumption was inversely associated with hip fracture risk, while heavy consumption was associated with an elevated risk. Another study found that both low and moderate/high alcohol consumption negatively impacted bone health in both men and women.

Cigarette smoking is considered a risk factor for osteoporosis and is related to loss of bone mass and an increased risk of fractures. Smoking is linked to increased follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, which tells estrogen levels to fall and results in rapid bone loss.

Some risk factors cannot be modified, such as:
  • Older age
  • History of falls
  • Gender
  • White ethnicity
  • Prior fracture history
  • Family history of osteoporosis
Secondary causes of osteoporosis include hypogonadism, diabetes, dementia, and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, glucocorticoids, used to treat autoimmune, pulmonary, and gastrointestinal conditions, negatively impact the skeleton, and glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis is the most common secondary cause of osteoporosis.

Reference

Pouresmaeili F, Kamalidehghan B, Kamarehei M, Goh YM. A comprehensive overview on osteoporosis and its risk factors. [published online November 6, 2018]. Ther Clin Risk Manag. doi: 10.2147/TCRM.S138000.

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