Revised 2018

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become porous, fragile and prone to fracture. It can affect men as well as women. Thyroid hormone affects the rate of bone replacement. Treatment of thyroid overactivity will reduce the rate of bone loss and bone strength may improve.

Risk factors

  • Personal history of broken bone
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Early menopause
  • Previous steroid therapy
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Low body weight
  • Lack of exercise or mobility
  • Poor diet
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Prolonged untreated hyperthyroidism
  • Prolonged over-treated hypothyroidism
  • Other illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, coeliac disease, primary hyperparathyroidism

Hyperthyroidism and osteoporosis

  • Too much thyroid hormone increases the rate at which bone is lost
  • Treating the hyperthyroidism (overactivity) reduces the rate of bone loss

Hypothyroidism and osteoporosis

  • Too much levothyroxine can cause increased bone loss
  • Be sure to have an annual thyroid function test to ensure your thyroid hormone levels are not too high


If you have prolonged untreated hyperthyroidism with other risk factors, a bone mineral density scan will help assess your risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Reducing the risk

  • A well-balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D and/or supplements
  • Limit alcohol intake to within recommended limits
  • Avoidance of smoking
  • Regular, high impact exercise, such as power-walking
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) (recommended only for the treatment of menopausal symptoms)
  • The National Osteoporosis Society recommends a daily calcium intake of 700mg for adult men and women, an extra 550mg if you are breastfeeding; and a daily intake of around 1000mg if you are taking osteoporosis drug treatments

Further information can be obtained from:
The National Osteoporosis Society (NOS)
Tel: 0808 800 0035

Thyroid problems often run in families and if family members are unwell they should be encouraged to discuss with their own GP whether thyroid testing is warranted.

This Quick Guide is one in a series about thyroid disorders. All Quick Guides are available on the British Thyroid Foundation website.

A leaflet containing more detailed information about Thyroid Disorders and Osteoporosis is also available.

The British Thyroid Foundation
tel:01423 810093
The British Thyroid Foundation is a registered charity: England and Wales No 1006391, Scotland SC046037

Membership Information
Quick Guides

Endorsed by:

The British Thyroid Association - medical professionals encouraging the highest standards in patient care and research

The British Association of Endocrine and Thyroid Surgeons - the representative body of British surgeons who have a specialist interest in surgery of the endocrine glands (thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal)

First issued: 2008
Revised: 2010, 2011, 2015, 2018
Our literature is reviewed every two years and revised if necessary.

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