It is easier to prevent osteoporosis than it is to treat it, Germany’s Munich-based association for Gynaecologists says.

Women who eat foods rich in calcium and get regular exercise, counter the decrease in bone density that starts usually at the age of 30. In addition to staying active, it increases the stability of the bones and lowers the risk of falling.

Osteoporosis is the slow loss of bone density, which leaves bones vulnerable in a fall or when carrying something. In addition to genetic predisposition, the risk factors for osteoporosis are oestrogen deficiency after menopause, too little calcium in the diet, too little exercise and smoking.

Long-lasting back pain could be a sign of osteoporosis. The condition is already advanced if the curve of the spine has changed or if the head and shoulders are hunched over. Damage can be reversed only on a slight scale, said Mr. Christian Ablating, president of the association.

Persistent back pain in women, who are beyond menopause, is thus a reason to visit the doctor. In order to establish the condition of the bones, their mineral salt content can be determined through a procedure involving a low-dose X-ray.