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Warding off osteoporosis – one of Australia’s most common and costly diseases – is worth the effort.

Osteoporosis has been called the “silent killer” because until you actually break a bone, it is unlikely you know you have it. The disease, where bones become thinner and brittle and can lead to disability and premature death, is hard to detect because there are no external symptoms.

According to Osteoporosis Australia, 1.2 million Australian have osteoporosis; 66 per cent of those 50 or over have either osteoporosis or poor bone health. Every five to six minutes an Australian is admitted to hospital with an osteoporotic fracture. In 2012, it cost the Australian health system $2.75 billion, according to Osteoporosis Australia.

The organisation estimates that most of the 1.2 million Australians with the disease are unaware they have it. A further 6.3 million Australians who have low bone density, called osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis, are even less likely to be aware they are at risk. So, why isn’t it on our radar? A lack of visible symptoms and general awareness may be to blame.

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