Osteoporosis and your lifestyle: why is it important?

Written by: Dr Francis Kynaston-Pearson
Published: | Updated: 15/11/2023
Edited by: Aoife Maguire

Osteoporosis is common, affecting hundreds of thousands of people in the UK. Every year, there are over 500,000 osteoporosis-related fractures, and every month, 1,100 deaths occur following a hip fracture. The impact of osteoporosis can be devastating, but it is treatable, and preventable. Here, Dr Francis Kynaston-Pearson gives us an overview of the facts. 

How common is osteoporosis?

In the UK alone, one in two women, and one in every five men over the age of 50 will have osteoporosis. Every three minutes, because of osteoporosis, someone experiences a fracture. An estimated 3 million people in the UK suffer from osteoporosis. Each year, thousands of patients experience wrist, hip, or spinal fractures – and the numbers are on the rise


What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis happens when bones become gradually more fragile. This can progress painlessly, until a bone suddenly breaks. Our bones are made of a thick outer shell, which surrounds a strong mesh network filled with calcium salts, collagen (protein), and other important minerals. When the mesh becomes thin, it can break easily.

In the body, bones are constantly in a state of renewal. Old bone breaks down, and new bone is made. This happens more slowly in old age. In young people, the body makes new bone faster than it breaks down the old bone, so bone mass is increased.

Over time, this process slows down. We reach our peak bone mass level in our early 30s, and from them, bones break down faster than the body is able to create them.

Therefore, the more you produce bone and accumulate bone mass in your younger years, the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis as you age. Think of your body like a bank, saving bone for later in life.


What causes osteoporosis?

As well as a low peak bone mass, there are other factors that can contribute to the development of osteoporosis:

  • A sedentary lifestyle (e.g lack of exercise, not being active)
  • Drinking excess alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Low sun exposure and lack of vitamin D
  • Low calcium levels
  • Inflammatory conditions (e.g arthritis)
  • Genetic variation
  • Drugs, such as steroids
  • Apoptosis (cell death)
  • Menopause – particularly early menopause

Osteoporosis is also more common in women than it is in men. The most commonly affected areas in the body are the wrist, hip, and spine.

As the process is gradual, osteoporosis often displays no symptoms until a bone breaks. However, as bones become weaker, you may notice back pain, a slight loss in height over time, or a stooped posture.


Treatment and prevention of osteoporosis

There are ways you can help to reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis, and many start with your lifestyle.

Smoking is advised against, as it can increase rates of bone loss, and reduce levels of calcium absorption.

If you drink excess alcohol, this can decrease your bone formation and decrease the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Moderation is key, and more than one alcoholic drink a day is considered excessive. Alcohol can also increase your risk of falling, which is another risk factor for osteoporosis.

To prevent falls, wearing shoes with a low heel is recommended, along with making sure your general environment is as safe as possible. Tuck away wires or cables, and avoid having slippery surfaces around the home.

If you believe you are at risk from osteoporosis, you can be assessed using a DEXA scan, a type of X-ray that can measure your bone density. 

Once osteoporosis has been diagnosed, there are various medications and therapies that can be prescribed by the doctor. After diagnosis, your specialist can recommend the best course of treatment.

Prevention, however, is always better than cure in this case. Your lifestyle and the decisions you make can affect your bones and their health. Factors such as nutrition, exercise, and daily habits can affect how likely you are to develop the condition. While osteoporosis is common, it can be helped, and you have the potential to prevent it. 




If you would like to book an appointment with Dr Francis Kynaston-Pearson , simply visit his Top Doctors profile today, 

By Dr Francis Kynaston-Pearson

Dr Francis John Benedict Kynaston-Pearson is a highly skilled consultant rheumatologist based in Nottingham who specialises in the diagnosis and chronic pain management of a full range of rheumatological conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, arthritis, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. In addition, he is also an expert in the treatment of rheumatological associated joint disorders, such as hypermobility.

Dr Kynaston-Pearson completed his medical training at the University of Leicester, where he obtained both his MBChB and his BSc, before going on to practice in Oxfordshire with rotations at the John Radcliffe Hospital and the Nuffield Hospital. Wanting to acquire a broader training experience, Dr Kynaston-Pearson spent almost a year working in emergency medicine in Brisbane, Australia.

On his return to England, Dr Kynaston-Pearson went on to accomplish his early physician training at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Birmingham City Hospital. He undertook his higher rheumatology specialist training in Nottingham, Derby and Lincoln, where he qualified in both Rheumatology and General Internal Medicine. Dr Kynaston-Pearson was appointed the Chief Registrar at the Nottingham University Hospital Trust on his final training year, giving him the opportunity to work closely with the Royal College of Physicians to action quality improvement in hospitals.

Moved by his passion for education, Dr Kynaston-Pearson took out time from his specialist training in 2014 to complete a Masters in Medical Education at the University of Nottingham and continues to pursue this interest as of today, mentoring trainees and teaching medical students. Besides education and his practice, Dr Kynaston-Pearson is engaged in research and has published his work in peer-reviewed journals.

View Profile

Overall assessment of their patients

  • Related procedures
  • Ozone therapy
    Neuropathic pain
    Elbow Pain
    Knee osteoarthritis
    Growth factors
    Trapped nerve
    Spinal osteoarthritis
    Spine fracture
    This website uses our own and third-party Cookies to compile information with the aim of improving our services, to show you advertising related to your preferences as well analysing your browsing habits. You can change your settings HERE.