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World Osteoporosis Day: History, meaning and symptoms

Ipshita Bagchi

World Osteoporosis Day

World Osteoporosis Day is observed on the 20th of October every year. It aims to spread awareness about the disease, it’s treatment and prevention.

October 20th marks the year long campaign dedicated to draw global-attention towards the disease. The campaign is held to make people aware about the importance of being healthy and taking care of your bones and muscles in order to avoid developing certain life-threatening conditions.

History of Osteoporosis Day

The World Osteoporosis Day was launched by the United Kingdom's National Osteoporosis Society and supported by the European Commission on 20 October, 1996.

Prior to 1994, Osteoporosis was not even considered as a life threatening disease. It was only in 1998 that two organizations came together to find the International Osteoporosis Foundation and committed to educating people about the disease.

The two organizations were the European Foundation for Osteoporosis (EFFO) created in 1987 and the International Federation of Societies on Skeletal Diseases (IFSSD).

By the late 90s, the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) co-sponsored World Osteoporosis Day events with the IOF.

This day has since then been organized by the International Osteoporosis Foundation.

International Osteoporosis Foundation logo

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis, meaning porous bones, is a condition that severely affects the bones. 

The inside of a healthy bone has small spaces, which increases causing the bone to lose strength and density. This further causes the outside bone to become more fragile and thinner. 

Do I have Osteoporosis?

At early stages of diagnosis there may be no noticeable symptom of Osteoporosis but as the condition progresses, the bones become weaker. One may start to notice the following signs and symptoms:

Pain in the back can be caused due to fracture or collapsed vertebra.

  1. Loss of height over time.
  2. Significant changes in posture
  3. Breaking of bones much more easily than expected.

Most of the people are unaware of the condition till they suffer a fracture. 

If you don’t have symptoms but have a family history of osteoporosis, one should visit the doctor in order to rule out the possibility of developing the disease.


Worldwide statistics of Osteoporosis

  • Osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually, resulting in an osteoporotic fracture every 3 seconds.
  • It is estimated to affect about 200 million women worldwide.
  • Worldwide, 1 in 3 women over age 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures, as will 1 in 5 men aged over 50.
  • By 2050, the worldwide incidence of hip fracture in men is projected to increase by 310% and 240% in women, compared to rates in 1990
  • In Europe, the disability due to osteoporosis is greater than that caused by cancers (with the exception of lung cancer).
  • An IOF survey, conducted in 11 countries, showed that denial of personal risk by postmenopausal women, lack of dialogue about osteoporosis with their doctor, and restricted access to diagnosis and treatment before the first fracture resulted in the underdiagnoses and under treatment of the disease.

Here are a few crazy facts about Osteoporosis

    • Your wrinkle cream could be hurting your bones! Research shows too much vitamin A can put you at higher risk for bone loss and fracture, which is a major risk factor in developing Osteoporosis.
    • If you have Osteoporosis your bone can snap like a twig with a single sneeze!
    • The spine is the most fractured bone when it comes to Osteoporosis.
    • No single cause of the disease has been identified to date.
    • Soft drinks that contain phosphoric acid increase the risk of osteoporosis.
    • Light skinned women are more prone to developing the disease!
    • Drinking four cups of coffee a day reduces calcium intake so much that it doubles the probability of a hip fracture.

Things one can do to maintain healthy bones:

Exercise regularly

Weight-bearing and balance-training exercises are most beneficial. Develop a schedule and make sure to involve some kind of physical activity in your day. Even a walk or run a day can make a huge difference. 


Ensure a nutrient rich diet

Calcium, vitamin D and protein are the most important for bone health. Safe exposure to sunshine will help you get an adequate amount of Vitamin D. Have fruits and green vegetables to keep your bones healthy and strong.

Nutrient diet

Avoid negative lifestyle habits

Maintain a healthy body weight, avoid smoking and excessive drinking. Also maintain a good sleep cycle to avoid unnecessary stressors in your life.

World Osteoporosis day

Find out whether you have risk factors

Visit the doctor if you feel you are meeting the risk factors for the disease. Be sure to inform the doctor about any previous fractures or related body ache.

Get tested if you’re at risk

If you’re at high risk you will likely need medication to ensure optimal protection against fractures.

It is not unknown that we should all take care of ourselves and treat our body with respect. Any kind of disease affecting causes harm to our body as well as our well-being. 

Treat your body with respect and it will return the favor. 

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