What is Osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. As a result, bones become weak and may break from a fall or, in serious cases, from sneezing or minor bumps. Bone is made up of minerals, mainly calcium salts, bound together by strong collagen fibres. Our bones have a thick, hard outer shell (called cortical or compact bone) which is easily seen on x-rays. Inside this, there’s a softer, spongy mesh of bone (trabecular bone) which has a honeycomb-like structure. Bone is a living, active tissue that’s constantly renewing itself. Old bone tissue is broken down by cells called osteoclasts and is replaced by new bone material produced by cells called osteoblasts.
Who gets osteoporosis? Osteoporosis is common around the world, and the risk increases with age. Anyone can get osteoporosis but women are about four times more likely than men to develop it. There are two main reasons for this:
1) The process of bone loss speeds up for several years after the menopause, when the ovaries stop producing the female sex hormone oestrogen.