What is osteoporosis?

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a bone disease where bones have a low mass or density. Usually it is caused by an increased breakdown of bone tissue. This leads to bones becoming more fragile, which increases the risk of the bones breaking. Sites that are particularly prone to breaking when someone has osteoporosis include the hip, spine, shoulder and wrist.

Osteoporosis is often known as “the silent thief” because the loss of bone happens without any symptoms.

Osteoporosis Facts


  • Almost 2 million Canadians are living with osteoporosis.
  • Fractures from osteoporosis are more common than heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined.
  • 1 in 4 women and at least 1 in 8 men over 50 have osteoporosis. Furthermore, over 80% of all fractures in people over 50 are due to osteoporosis.
  • At least 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will suffer from an osteoporotic fracture during their lifetime.
  • No single cause for osteoporosis has been identified and it can begin at any age.
  • Major risk factors for osteoporosis include age, vertebral compression fracture, fragility fracture after age 40, family history, greater than 3 months use of steroid drugs and medical conditions that inhibit absorption of nutrients.