17 risk factors for osteoporosis

Are you at risk of osteoporosis? As 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men over the age of 50 will break a bone as a result of osteoporosis, there’s a high chance you may be.

Am I at risk of osteoporosis?

Bone density testing is especially recommended if you:

  1. Are a tall or thin woman who is post-menopausal
  2. Are a woman who has had an early menopause, or you've had your ovaries removed at a young age (before 45) and haven't had hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  3. You’ve suffered an eating disorder
  4. Are a man with clinical conditions such as liver disease, associated with bone loss.
  5. Use medications that are known to cause bone loss, including corticosteroids such as Prednisone, various anti-seizure medications  or breast or prostate cancer treatments.
  6. Have excessive alcohol intake
  7. Have indulged in recreational drug use
  8. Are losing height or developing a stoop
  9. Have a thyroid condition, such as hyperthyroidism.
  10. Have a parathyroid condition, such as hyperparathyroidism.
  11. Have experienced a fracture after only mild trauma.
  12. Have had x-ray evidence of osteoporosis or a vertebral fracture.
  13. You have a body mass index (BMI) of less than 21
  14. Are a man or a woman with a condition that leads to low bone density, such as rheumatoid arthritis  
  15. Are a woman who has large gaps between periods (more than a year)
  16. Are a man or a woman taking oral glucocorticoids for three months or more – glucocorticoids are used to help treat inflammation, but can also cause weakened bones
  17. Have a family history of osteoporosis or minor injury fracture. 

The good news is, if you can find out your exact risk, you can take pre-emptive action against osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis refers to a thinning of the bones which makes them more vulnerable to a fracture. As part of natural ageing after the age of 35, bone loss increases very gradually.

However, bone loss becomes more rapid as we age, especially in women for several years following the menopause and can lead to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fractures.

You can prevent osteoporosis

According to Professor David Reid of Twenty-five Harley Street Day Clinic, osteoporosis can be stopped in its tracks – providing you know if you’re at risk.

Professor Reid says:

There are lifestyle changes you can make – weight bearing exercise and taking vitamin D, For those who have already developed osteoporosis, doctors can also prescribe drugs which reduce the rate of bone breakdown (bone resorption) significantly and reduce the likelihood of fractures in the spine, at the hip and for many drugs at other non-spine sites.

The first thing you need to do is to discover whether you are at risk of osteoporosis. This is done by using a DEXA scan.  DEXA, also referred to as DXA – is short for dual energy X-ray absorptiometry are safe, accurate, painless and non-invasive scan which can give precise risk factors for osteoporosis.


    How does a DEXA scan work?

    Radiation (X-rays) go through your body during the DEXA scan. Some of the radiation is taken in by the bone and soft tissue and some travels through your body.

    The DEXA scanner works out how much radiation is being passed through your bones by directing X-ray energy through the bone at a very fast rate, alternating from two different sources.

    This allows the scanner to work out your bone density. It can also calculate how this measurement compares to other people who are the same age and sex, giving a good indication as to whether you’re at risk of conditions such as osteoporosis and osteopenia (when the bone thins - often a precursor to osteoporosis).

    The DEXA test can also assess an individual's risk for developing fractures. The risk of fracture is affected by age, body weight, history of prior fracture, family history of osteoporotic fractures and life style issues such as cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. These factors are taken into consideration when deciding if a patient needs therapy.

    Book a DEXA

    Booking a DEXA scan in London

    A DEXA scan is considered safe and risk-free, you can also self-refer. You can book a DEXA scan yourself at Twenty-five Harley Street Day Clinic. Call 0203 8839525 or email appointments@25harleystreet.co.uk

    Twenty-five Harley Street Day Clinic, 25 Harley Street, London, W1G 9QW


    Inflammation of one or more joints of the body. Full medical glossary
    A measure of whether a person’s weight is normal, too high or too low. It is calculated by dividing their weight in kilograms by the square of their height in metres. Full medical glossary
    Abnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. Full medical glossary
    A group of hormones that are produced by the adrenal glands, which sit on top of the kidneys. Full medical glossary
    A means of measuring bone density. Full medical glossary
    An abbreviation for dual energy X-ray absorptiometry. Full medical glossary
    A substance produced by a gland in one part of the body and carried by the blood to the organs or tissues where it has an effect. Full medical glossary
    Abbreviation for hormone replacement therapy, the administration of female hormones in cases where they are not sufficiently produced by the body. Full medical glossary
    Excessive secretion of parathyroid hormone from the parathyroid glands. Full medical glossary
    The body’s response to injury. Full medical glossary
    A large abdominal organ that has many important roles including the production of bile and clotting factors, detoxification, and the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Full medical glossary
    Relating to the menopause, the time of a woman’s life when her ovaries stop releasing an egg (ovum) on a monthly cycle. Full medical glossary

    The time of a woman’s life when her ovaries stop releasing an egg (ovum) on a monthly cycle, and her periods cease

    Full medical glossary
    Myocardial infarction. Death of a segment of heart muscle, which follows interruption of its blood supply. Full medical glossary
    Any test or technique that does not involve penetration of the skin. The term 'non-invasive' may also describe tumours that do not invade surrounding tissues. Full medical glossary

    A  condition in which the protein and mineral content of bone tissue is reduced, but less severely than in osteoporosis.

    Full medical glossary
    A condition resulting in brittle bones due to loss of bony tissue. Full medical glossary
    Female reproductive organs situated one on either side of the uterus (womb). They produce egg cells (ova) and hormones in a monthly cycle. Full medical glossary
    A gland that surrounds the urethra near the bladder. It produces a fluid that forms part of the semen. Full medical glossary
    Energy in the form of waves or particles, including radio waves, X-rays and gamma rays. Full medical glossary
    Uncontrolled electrical activity within the brain, leading to convulsions or an alteration in mental state. Full medical glossary
    Compounds with a common basic structure, which occur naturally in the body. The term may also refer to man-made drugs administered because they act like hormones. Full medical glossary
    A gland in the neck that produces hormones with a role in controlling metabolism. Full medical glossary
    A group of cells with a similar structure and a specialised function. Full medical glossary
    A physical injury or emotionally painful event. Full medical glossary
    Affecting the vertebrae, the bones of the spine, or the joints between them Full medical glossary
    Essential substances that cannot be produced by the body and so must be acquired from the diet. Full medical glossary
    A type of electromagnetic radiation used to produce images of the body. Full medical glossary