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Around three million people in the UK have osteoporosis, and it is more common in women than men. It affects one in two women and one in five men over the age of 50, although it can affect people of all ages.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become weak, fragile and can break easily. Osteoporosis can be caused by:

  • Early menopause (before the age of 45 – see our section on Menopause for more information)
  • Early hysterectomy (before the age of 45)
  • Close family history
  • Long term immobility
  • Smoking
  • Heavy drinking

Ways to help prevent osteoporosis

There are several ways to keep your bones healthy and reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis:

  • Diet – Eating and drinking foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, baked beans, dried fruit and green, leafy vegetables.
  • Exercise – Regular, weight-bearing exercise such as jogging, aerobics, tennis, dancing and brisk walking can help to improve bone strength.
  • Lifestyle – Smoking and drinking alcohol both increase the risk of osteoporosis as they have a toxic effect on bones, so stop smoking and drink alcohol in moderation. See our article on Giving up smoking for advice.
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) – HRT can be very helpful in preventing osteoporosis. Speak to your GP for further advice.

Royal Osteoporosis Society have produced a wide range of information sheets and leaflets on various issues about osteoporosis, which you should find helpful. They can also give you details of a support group in your local area.

You may find it useful to read our Falls Prevention article on Information NOW.

Information in other languages

Patient Information Centre has a searchable database of over 17,000 health resources in more than 60 languages. Visit the Patient Information Centre website to search the database


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Please note – The content on this website is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you are feeling unwell, make an appointment to see your GP or contact NHS 111. In an emergency, dial 999.

Last updated: October 20, 2020