Other Risk Factors for Osteoporosis

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Most recently, it has become clear that systemic inflammation is another factor increasing the rate of bone loss, and consequently the risk of osteoporosis. Systemic inflammation characterizes a number of conditions that are generally mediated by the immune system against itself.  Examples of which include Rheumatoid arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosis.

The mechanisms by which this occurs relates to the chemicals released during the process of inflammation that directly stimulate the cells that result in bone resorption.  In an unfortunate twist of irony, a most efficacious medication used to manage the inflammation exacerbates the situation and further increases the risk of osteoporosis.

Specifically, this refers to corticosteroids, which in the oral form is called Prednisone or Prednisolone.  This medication also affects the balance between bone formation and resorption in a negative manner.  The effect is dose dependant, meaning the higher the amount and/or the longer the duration of use the greater the risk.

A number of other medications also can impact upon the risk of osteoporosis, but comparatively to a lesser degree, such as the group of medications used to treat oesophageal reflux termed Proton Pump inhibitors.

Although not medications, this seems an opportune moment to also mention the deleterious effects of both excessive alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking.  If the other reasons to abandon these vices are not sufficient then consider, in addition, the risk of developing osteoporosis.

This list of risk factors is by no means exhaustive, but what we hope it illustrates is the fact that bone health is not an independent process but rather is intricately regulated by a number of body systems.

There is no single risk factor that takes precedence but rather it is the combination of these factors that is most predictive.  The following section will discuss ‘How the condition is diagnosed’ and finally ‘How is osteoporosis treated’.