World Osteoporosis Day does not have the same ring to it as World No Tobacco Day, or No Alcohol Day, Fitness Day or Food Day, all aimed at raising awareness of healthy living. But, as we grow older, the risk of developing the bone-thinning condition rises in the presence of even one of those four factors – smoking, abuse of alcohol, lack of outdoor exercise or neglect of diet. As the name of the day implies, osteoporosis is a global health issue. It is linked to ageing, in that bone mass gradually declines from early middle age. Women are more at risk of developing the condition because hormonal changes at menopause affect bone density. As a public health issue, World Osteoporosis Day this week therefore resonates in Hong Kong, a rapidly ageing society with a relatively high life expectancy, where women live longer and outnumber men by a ratio of 100 to 85. It can cause bones to break easily. The risk of a fracture as a result of the condition is heightened by a fall. That is something that happens to us all, more than once in our lives, and regardless of age, health and fitness. Dr Iris Ngai Sze-ling, the honorary secretary of the Osteoporosis Society of Hong Kong, says one-third of women and a fifth of men over 50 will sustain bone fractures caused by osteoporosis. Hong Kong orthopaedic surgeon Dr Jason Brockwell says: “If you are lucky enough to live to a good age, you will run into osteoporosis.” On World Osteoporosis Day, how to spot the disease – and head it off While Hong Kong’s ageing will probably result in a higher incidence of the condition, it is partly attributable to a low smoking rate of 10 per cent, which is a positive. If there are negatives that can be addressed, they could include sedentary lifestyles without much outdoor exercise and limited exposure to sunlight, which aids the absorption of vitamin D and calcium, essential for strong bones and, in turn, good balance. A sensible work-life balance is fundamental to health, including mental health. In respect of osteoporosis that is especially so for women, given that their representation in the workforce, particularly at management and executive level, can only increase.