Osteoporosis Basics Copy

  • Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become thin and porous, decreasing bone strength and leading to increased risk of breaking a bone
  • No single cause for osteoporosis has been identified
  • Osteoporosis is often called the 'silent thief' because bone loss occurs without symptoms
  • Osteoporosis can result in disfigurement, lowered self-esteem, reduction or loss of mobility, and decreased independence
  • Building strong bones during childhood and adolescence can be the best defence against developing osteoporosis later.
  • Peak bone mass is achieved at an early age, age 16 in girls and age 20 in young men.
  • Women and men alike begin to lose bone in their mid-30s; as they approach menopause, women lose bone at a greater rate, from 2-5% per year.

Learn more at Osteoporosis Canada


Financial Costs

The cost of treating osteoporosis and the fractures it causes is estimated to be $1.9 billion each year in Canada alone. Long term, hospital and chronic care account for the majority of these costs.

Financial Costs

  • Osteoporosis causes 70-90% of 30,000 hip fractures annually

  • Each hip fracture costs the system $21,285 in the 1st year after hospitalization, and $44,156 if the patient is institutionalized

  • A study recently reported that only 44% of people discharged from hospital for a hip fracture return home; of the rest, 10% go to another hospital, 27% go to rehabilitation care, and 17% go to long-term care facilities.

Human Costs

The reduced quality of life for those with osteoporosis is enormous. Osteoporosis can result in disfigurement, lowered self-esteem, reduction or loss of mobility, and decreased independence.

Some basic human impact statistics about osteoporosis and fractures:

Human Costs

  • At least 80% of fractures in people 60+ are related to osteoporosis

  • A 50-year-old woman has a 40% chance of developing hip, vertebral or wrist fractures during her lifetime (Melton et al., 1992)

  • Patients are at highest risk for subsequent fracture in the first few months following a vertebral fracture (Johnell et al., 2001)

  • 1 in 5 women who have a new vertebral fracture will fracture again within one year (Johnell et al., 2001)

Additional Costs

The statistics related to hip fractures are particularly disturbing.

Additional Costs

  • The lifetime risk of hip fracture is greater (1 in 6) than the 1 in 9 lifetime risk of developing breast cancer (Franke et al., 2006)

  • Approx 25,000 hip fractures in Canada in 1993

  • 80% of hip fractures are osteoporosis-related

  • 23% of patients who fracture a hip die in less than a year

  • Hip fractures result in death in up to 20% of patients

  • Hip fractures result in disability in 50% of those who survive

Fewer than 20% of women who fracture and 10% of men in Canada currently undergo diagnosis or adequate treatment for osteoporosis.

Without BMD testing, 80% of patients with a history of fractures are not given osteoporosis therapies.

Frankel, J. E., Bean, J. F., & Frontera, W. R. (2006). Exercise in the elderly: research and clinical practice. Clin Geriatr Med, 22(2), 239-256; vii.

Johnell, O., Oden, A., Caulin, F., Kanis, J.A. (2001). Acute and long-term increase in fracture risk after hospitalization for vertebral fracture. Osteoporos Int, 12(3):207-14.

Melton, L.J. III, Chrischilles, E.A., Cooper, C., Lane, A.W., Riggs, B.L. (1992). Perspective: how many women have osteoporosis? J Bone Miner Res, 7:1005-10.