Is Osteoporosis Hereditary? Does It Run In Families?

osteoporosis hereditary

Osteoporosis is one of the most common bone disorders affecting women. This condition is defined by reduced bone mineral density. Most women are not aware that they have osteoporosis unless they develop a fracture. Is osteoporosis hereditary? It is important to know your risk for developing osteoporosis so that you can take measures to keep your bones strong and healthy. 

Is osteoporosis hereditary?

Women who have a family history of osteoporosis are often worried that they might develop this condition. If your mother or sister is diagnosed with Osteoporosis, you may also be concerned about being prone to Osteoporosis.  [1] [2]

There are both genetic and family lifestyle factors that can affect your risk of developing osteoporosis. Let’s look at the ways your family history plays a role in your bone health.

What are the factors that can influence your risk of developing osteoporosis?

1. Dietary habits

Family members of patients with osteoporosis have a higher tendency to develop it. One reason could be the similar eating habits of the patient and other family members. [3]

It is common for people in the same family to have similar dietary habits. Therefore, the nutrients needed for bone formation, like calcium and vitamin D, could be deficient in the diet of the whole family. [4]

A deficit of vital nutrients can lead to a deficit in bone mineral density

The increased risk of osteoporosis due to similar dietary habits of family members does not mean this condition is osteoporosis hereditary. A healthy diet for the entire family, with plenty of calcium and Vitamin D, can reduce the risk of osteoporosis.  [5] [6]

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2. Fractures

Osteoporosis is a common precursor to bone fractures and is more common in women after menopause. The reduced bone mineral density in menopausal women makes the bones weak and porous, therefore, they break easily.

Research studies have revealed that fractures due to osteoporosis could be familial. People who have family members with fractures due to osteoporosis are more likely to develop it themselves. [7]

The increased risk in family members could be associated with the similarities of bone formation and bone loss metabolic processes that are controlled by their genetic makeup. [8]

Cellular mechanisms that occur in the bones affect the process of bone remodeling. These cellular processes are controlled by DNA. This is why people having a close relative with osteoporosis may be likely to develop it.

3. Hormonal mechanisms

The development of osteoporosis is largely controlled by hormones. In young adult women, hormones called estrogen and progesterone protect against the development of osteoporosis. [9]

After menopause, there is a reduction in estrogen production. The reduced levels of this hormone can trigger the process of bone loss. The breakdown of bone cells occurs at a faster rate than the rate of formation of new bone cells.

As a result, bones lose their mass leaving the bone tissues weaker and less dense. [10]

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This lower bone mass is responsible for the development of osteoporosis in menopausal and postmenopausal women. Since these hormonal changes are genetically linked, it is possible for women to have a higher risk of osteoporosis if they have a family history of this condition. [11]

4. Obesity

Obesity can increase your risk of developing bone and joint disorders including osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. This risk factor is also found to run in families. 

If your close family member has been diagnosed with osteoporosis and the person is obese, you have a higher chance of developing if you also suffer from obesity. [12]

How can you improve your bone health?

Several research studies have suggested that maybe osteoporosis hereditary in nature. However, not all women having a family history of osteoporosis develop it. [13]

Having a mother or sister with osteoporosis could increase your risk of developing this condition but the genetic influence is minimal and you can take active measures to reduce your risk. 

Here are some strategies women can adopt to reduce their risk of osteoporosis, especially when they have a family history of this condition:

  • Adopt a diet rich in foods containing calcium and vitamin D. You need these essential nutrients to keep bones strong. 
  • Take vitamin D and calcium supplements to strengthen your bones 
  • Some medications such as corticosteroids are known to increase bone loss. Avoid these medications or use safer alternatives. 
  • Regular aerobic and weight-bearing exercise strengthens the muscles supporting the bones. You will improve your balance and coordination reducing the risk of fractures from to a fall. 
  • Do not smoke. Smoking is associated with a higher risk of osteoporosis. [14]
  • Alcohol intake can make your bones weaker. Limit alcohol use to prevent the loss of bone mineral density. [15]

Conclusion

If you have a family member, especially your mother or sister, diagnosed with osteoporosis, you might be at a higher risk of developing it.

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A number of factors such as similar dietary and lifestyle habits, as well as similar metabolic and hormonal systems could contribute to the risk of osteoporosis. 

However, it is possible to prevent osteoporosis hereditary and keep your bones strong and healthy by ensuring your diet contains an adequate amount of vitamin D and calcium. Regular bone mineral density tests can help you assess your bone health and allow you to seek treatment before complications occur. 

Proper preventive and treatment strategies are the keys to avoiding the influence of genetic tendencies on your risk of developing osteoporosis. 

References: 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6059859/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5335887/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4928581/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5508855/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10927613/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15956846/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19028354
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6559287/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC381441/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29520604/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4187361/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3955049/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10927613/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6304634/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6676684/

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