I’m delighted to be able to say a few words to mark World Osteoporosis Day. To quote the International Osteoporosis Foundation, today gives us the opportunity to “unite, to put the spotlight on the immense global burden caused by osteoporosis”.
I became involved with osteoporosis 26 years ago after my mother died as a result of this devastating disease. In those dark old days it was seldom discussed, rarely diagnosed and usually attributed to old women with so-called ‘dowager’s humps’. My family and I knew nothing about it and were at a loss to know how we could help alleviate the terrible pain she suffered.
But how times have changed – today huge strides have been made in the treatment and research into osteoporosis, and we now know how it can be prevented and how we can support those who are living with it.
We know it is vital to eat the right food, to take regular and weight-bearing exercise and, so importantly, to educate young people as to how to look after their bone health. It has, of course, been more challenging to get out and about this year, but we must all ensure, for the sake of our bones, that we stay as active as possible, even in the midst of a pandemic…
For those living with osteoporosis, there is now, thankfully, a wide range of treatments available to slow bone loss and increase bone mass. We are lucky to have brilliant charities all over the world offering practical and emotional help. I am extremely proud to be President of the Royal Osteoporosis Society, which runs a helpline and a network of support groups which really do make a huge difference to thousands of sufferers across the UK.
I couldn’t end without saying a particular thank you to all the fantastic scientists who, through their combined efforts, are doing so much to find a cure for osteoporosis which, 26 years ago, would have been beyond my family’s, and many, many others’, wildest dreams.
We can therefore mark this World Osteoporosis Day with hope and confidence that, together, we will be able to bring an end to this ‘silent’ disease that has brought such misery and pain to millions of people across the globe.