Don’t Believe These 10 Myths About Osteoporosis

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

Osteoporosis may be a confusing diagnosis. What does it mean for your daily life? Can you slow the progression down? How can you improve bone health? Does it mean you are doomed to fall and suffer fractured bones? Unfortunately, there are many myths and misunderstandings around osteoporosis. Read on to learn how to separate the myths from the facts.

Calcium and vitamin D supplements with milk and cheese in background.
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Myth: Low calcium causes osteoporosis

Facts: Calcium is an important part of bone and overall health. But bone health relies on a variety of essential nutrients such as vitamin K, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and B vitamins. You also need vitamin D for your body to absorb calcium. The statement that low calcium causes osteoporosis is much too simplified to tell the whole story.

healthy older couple walking in park
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Myth: Osteoporosis is just part of old age

Facts: Age is a risk factor for osteoporosis, but not everyone develops it. In the U.S., approximately 55 percent of people over the age of 50 will be diagnosed with osteoporosis, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation. In addition to age, other risk factors include a family history of osteoporosis, smoking, heavy alcohol use, lack of exercise, certain medical conditions, being small-framed, and eating a diet low in calcium and vitamin D, according to the University of Michigan.

Broken leg up on ottoman.
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Myth: Everyone with osteoporosis has at least one bone fracture

Facts: One in three women and one in five men experience an osteoporosis bone fracture, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation. Your doctor can work with you to determine your fracture risk and what steps you can take to reduce that risk.

Doctor explaining results of bone scan and what osteopenia is.
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Myth: If you have osteopenia, it’s only a matter of time until you develop osteoporosis

Facts: Osteopenia is when you have low bone mass but not low enough to be considered osteoporosis, according to FamilyDoctor.org. While osteopenia can be a warning sign of osteoporosis, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you can do to strengthen your bones, such as weight-bearing exercise and making sure you get enough calcium and other nutrients.

Male patient getting set up for bone scan.
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Myth: Osteoporosis is a women’s disease

Facts: Women develop osteoporosis more often than men, but men can also experience bone loss and fractures. Around 20 to 25 percent of hip fractures occur in men, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation. Men have a 27 percent lifetime risk of experiencing an osteoporosis fracture, which is higher than their risk of developing prostate cancer.

Senoir couple enjoying life.
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Myth: Osteoporosis only occurs in the elderly

Facts: The elderly are more at risk of developing osteoporosis, but it can also affect people between the ages of 20 and 50, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation. Peak bone mass usually occurs between 18 and 25 years of age, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. And while bone formation continues to happen after that age, you tend to lose more bone than you produce. The more bone mass you have at your peak, the lower your risk of developing osteoporosis.

One pill a day set up in pill box.
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Myth: After a diagnosis of osteoporosis, the only treatment is a pill

Facts: Medications are an important part of treatment for osteoporosis. These include bisphosphonates, rank ligand inhibitors, and, for women, hormones. But there are also nonpharmacological strategies, such as making sure you have adequate vitamin D and calcium intake, limiting alcohol and caffeine consumption, quitting smoking, exercising regularly and learning fall avoidance, according to a report published in 2018.

48 continue states as American flag.
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Myth: Osteoporosis is only a problem in the United States

Facts: People around the world are diagnosed with osteoporosis every day. There are more than 8.9 million osteopathic bone fractures worldwide each year, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, with about one-third of women and 10 percent of men being diagnosed with osteoporosis around the world.

X-ray of severely fractured forearm.
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Myth: There are no signs of osteoporosis until you reach the point of fracture

Facts: Although osteoporosis is generally a silent disease, there are some warning signs, such as losing height, stooped posture, and sudden back pain without an obvious cause, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation.

Drinking milk for bone health at all stages of life
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Boost your bone health

With all the misconceptions about osteoporosis and bone health, it’s important to know the facts about how to reduce your risk of osteoporosis, fragility fractures, and falls. Work to improve your bone health every day by making healthy choices for the best chance at strong bones later in life.

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.