Osteoporosis risk factors

There are many known risk factors that can contribute to our chance of developing osteoporosis and breaking a bone – some we can change, and some that we can’t.

Whilst healthy eating, getting enough vitamin D and keeping an active lifestyle is vital for healthy bones, so far, research has been unable to prove that they have such a significant impact as other known osteoporosis risk factors.

Some risk factors seem to affect the quantity of our bone tissue - as measured on a bone density scan - others affect the quality of our bone tissue, which isn’t identifiable on a scan but does contribute to our overall bone strength. Other factors won't affect bone strength, but will affect our risk of falling, which could mean a broken bone if osteoporosis is already present.

Osteoporosis risk fractures can be assessed using a FRAX assessment, which help doctors to identify people at risk of osteoporosis and broken bones, beyond just bone density.

Risk factors we can change

Our lifestyle choices can have an impact on bone strength and contribute to our risk of osteoporosis and broken bones in later life.

Luckily, we can all make small changes to the way we live our lives to help lower our risk. Whilst adopting a 'bone-friendly' way of living when young can help to build up good bone health for life, it’s never too late to re-evaluate our lifestyle choices and make positive steps towards better bone health.

Select an option below to find out more.

  • Body weight
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Balance and coordination

Other risk factors

It’s important to understand that, often, osteoporosis and broken bones aren’t caused by something we have ‘done’ or could have changed.

Some research suggests that factors like our genes, age, gender and race can affect our risk of osteoporosis and broken bones in later life. Whilst we can’t – on the most part – control or change these, it’s still important to know about them.

  • Genes
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Medication
  • Medical history