What Is Osteoporosis? Facts & Statistics

The Silent Disease

Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue, leading to bone fragility. It is called a ‘silent disease’ because it progresses without symptoms or pain until a fracture occurs, usually in the hip, spine, wrist or shoulder. It can lead to pain, disability and, in some cases, even death.

One in 2 women and 1 in 5 men will sustain an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. Fractures from osteoporosis are more common than heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined. A woman's risk of developing an osteoporosis-related fracture is equal to her combined risk of developing breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer.

You may be susceptible to osteoporosis if you:

  • Are a postmenopausal woman.
  • Have a calcium-deficient diet.
  • Have a family history of osteoporosis.
  • Are a thin, petite woman.
  • Smoke.
  • Are sedentary.
  • Drink more than 2 alcoholic beverages a day.

You can decrease your chances of osteoporosis

Several lifestyle choices can help to reduce your chances of suffering this disease. Eating a well-balanced diet, cutting down on cigarettes and excessive alcohol, supplementing your diet with calcium supplements and participating in weight-bearing exercises such as walking, jogging, biking, hiking, rowing and jumping rope can all reduce your chances of osteoporosis.

Men are also susceptible to osteoporosis

Although osteoporosis mainly affects women, 400,000 men in Canada suffer from osteoporosis. And 1 in 8 men over the age of 50 suffer fractures related to this disease. Warning signs in men include a change in posture or sudden back pain. However, the most common way osteoporosis is diagnosed in men is by loss of height or a fracture.

After age 65 to 70, men and women lose bone mass at about the same rate. While hip fractures in this age group are more common in women, they are often more serious in men. Men have a 26% higher death rate within a year after a hip fracture than women.

It's Never Too Late

A common misconception among women worried about osteoporosis is that they may be past the age when taking Caltrate would be helpful. Scientific studies have shown that even mature postmenopausal women can benefit from greater calcium intake. In a clinical trial, Caltrate significantly reduced the risk of repeat vertebral fractures for postmenopausal women aged 66-80.*

And if you're in your 30s, having more calcium in your diet is especially important to your health. That's because bone mass peaks in your mid 30s and then slowly declines with age.


Osteoporosis Canada. (n.d.). What Is Osteoporosis? Osteoporosis & You. Retrieved from http://www.osteoporosis.ca/osteoporosis-and-you/what-is-osteoporosis/

* Recker, R.R., Hinders, S., Davies, K.M., Heaney, R.P., Stegman, M.R., Lappe, J.M., and Kimmel DB. (1996). Correcting Calcium Nutritional Deficiency Prevents Spine Fractures in Elderly Women. J Bone Miner Res, 11, 1961-1966.

Did You Know?

  • Osteoporosis is sometimes confused with osteoarthritis. Osteoporosis is a bone disease; osteoarthritis is a disease of the joints and surrounding tissue.
  • Osteoporosis causes bones to become thin and porous. This decreases their strength and increases fracture risk.
  • No single cause for osteoporosis has been identified.
  • Osteoporosis can occur at any age.
  • Perhaps the best defense against osteoporosis is to build strong bones during childhood and adolescence.
  • At ages 16-20 in girls, and ages 20-25 in young men, peak bone mass is reached. Both women and men begin to lose bone in their mid-30s.
  • Women approaching menopause lose bone at an increased rate, from 2-3 per cent per year.
  • Over 80% of all fractures in people 50+ are caused by osteoporosis.


Osteoporosis Canada. (n.d.). Osteoporosis Facts & Statistics. Osteoporosis & You. Retrieved from http://www.osteoporosis.ca/osteoporosis-and-you/osteoporosis-facts-and-statistics/

There is no single cause for osteoporosis, but several known factors can increase the risk.