Can You Inherit Osteoporosis? The Answer May Surprise You - Save Our Bones

Genes are sequences of DNA that make up a hereditary trait. You might have heard of them described as the blueprints for the human body.

That characterization implies that every aspect of your body's form and function is predetermined– written in your DNA code.

When scientists discuss genetic predisposition for osteoporosis it may seem as if bone health is simply the luck of the draw– either you have good genes for bone health or you don’t.

However, we now know that it isn't that simple. In this article, we'll deconstruct that misperception and explain the relationship between genetics and osteoporosis. You'll learn how to take control of your bone health, regardless of your genes.

Inheriting Osteoporosis

Our genetic code provides the instructions our body uses to grow and maintain itself. In essence, it consists of encoded information within genetic material used by living cells to translate into proteins. We inherit that code from our parents, each of whom contributes half of the genes that make up our DNA.

It might appear that there is a direct, one-to-one relationship between specific genes in our genetic code and the various facets of our bodies. While this may be close to true for certain features, in most cases the relationship is far more complex.

The relationship between our genes and osteoporosis is still a matter of great debate, but we can safely say that it's far from simple.

Synopsis

Our genetic code contains the instructions our body uses to grow and maintain itself. However, the relationship between our genes and the physical form and functions of our body (including bone health) is complex and indirect.

We Inherit More Than Our Genes

Studies have shown that people with a family history of osteoporosis and bone fractures are more likely to develop osteoporosis and suffer a fracture than someone without a family history.1

However, this observation doesn't necessarily pin the blame on genetics. After all, families pass more than just genetics across generations.

Unlike animals born with instinctual behaviors and knowledge enabling early-age independent survival, humans must learn how to do nearly everything over decades. Human genes don't contain instructions for behavior– but we still inherit many of our behaviors from our parents.

Consider that many of the most important factors for bone health are behaviors that we learn from our parents and other adults in our lives.

Different cultures and regions have different cuisines, and even within cultures, different families have very different eating habits. If you learned as a child to prepare all of your meals at home from healthy whole ingredients, then you inherited a bone-healthy dietary behavior. But many people grew up with the habit of eating microwave TV dinners, stopping at fast food restaurants, and ordering delivery.

Building an active lifestyle can start from childhood. Adults who model a physically active life are showing young people how to stay active and healthy into adulthood. While one family might go on long walks after dinner, play soccer in the backyard, and attend family yoga classes, another might lead a sedentary life. The behaviors you learn form the foundation of your health.

Family habits and practices are passed along just like genes– and they may be even more influential than genes in determining health outcomes.

Synopsis

In addition to inheriting our genes, we also inherit learned behaviors from our parents and other adults in our lives. This learned inheritance can include healthy or unhealthy habits around diet, exercise, and lifestyle, and can be even more powerful than our genes.

The Genetic Code Is Interactive

Studies have found associations between certain genes or regions of the genetic code and the risk of osteoporosis.1

That might make it sound like your future is predetermined, but it is not. The field of epigenetics has found that often genes are more like possibilities than certainties. Genes can be activated or deactivated by different triggers.

This gives you the power to communicate with your genes! Bone-building behaviors work in part because of this effect. When you do bone-building exercises, a series of reactions are set into motion that triggers your genes to enact the bone remodeling process.

Conversely, if you lead a sedentary life, the genes responsible for regulating osteoblasts that build new bone and osteoclasts that remove old bone won't receive the signal to activate.

Behaviors like regular exercise send the right signals to your body for the maintenance of strong, healthy bones. A pH-balanced diet filled with a variety of vitamins and minerals allows your body to maintain both your bones and the signaling pathways that your body uses to activate your genes and regulate the processes they govern.

Synopsis

Many genes function more as possibilities than certainties. Your behaviors send signals to your genetic code that activate different genes, including those that govern healthy bone remodeling.

What This Means To You

Having a family history of osteoporosis and bone fractures provides useful information, but it does not predict your future.

Your choices influence your outcomes, right down to the genetic level. Before you get too wrapped up worrying about the genes you inherited, consider the behaviors you inherited. You can make the choice to keep or change those behaviors to build the future you want.

The Osteoporosis Reversal Program is a guide to choosing the right habits and practices for living a long life with strong bones.

Additionally, the Save Institute has developed an exercise plan based on epigenetics: The Densercise™ Epidensity Training System.

It includes weight-bearing, resistance training, and postural exercises developed to build and strengthen bones in fracture-prone areas, such as the hips, the spine, and wrists, and the ankles. You don’t need any equipment and it only takes 15 minutes a day, three times a week in the comfort of your home.

The simple 15-minute at-home exercise sessions included in Densercise are designed to send a clear signal to your body: build stronger bones! That's a message every Saver can get behind!

References

1 https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/document?repid=rep1&type=pdf&doi=824a98986b74b44a74cfed45b29011c53e9077eb

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12 comments. Leave Yours Now →
  1. Robbi

    Hi, i’m new to this website and would like to know if there is a list of recommended foods for healthy bones and a list of unhealthy foods?

  2. Luc

    I have read about epigenetics where genes can be turned on and off. An article wrote that a gene turned off or on can be passed on to the next generation either on or off, but would not be turned on or off after being transmitted.
    So the state of a gene is also transmitted. I wish I had the reference.
    Thanks again for the information. With your analyses one can almost get a degree in biochemistry!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Thanks for sharing interesting information, Luc! And you’re very welcome 🙂

  3. Carol Moore

    I have diligently followed this program for close to two decades, my discipline with food and exercise were off the charts. I am now 80 years old. Though my bone density plus my genetics said I had osteoporosis I believed in the program and continued to follow. 12/14/23 I had surgery due to a compression that occurred with no incidence. Again with no incidence I had a 2nd surgery on 1/3/24. This program gave me false hope and now I suffer the consequences. My neurosurgeon said my vertebrae were so thin you could almost see through them. The pain has been unbelievable!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      I’m so sorry to hear about your experience and the pain you’ve been going through. But let’s look at the other side of the coin. If you would have taken osteoporosis drugs, you might have had to deal with their terrible side effects. And some drugs, such as Prolia (denosumab) actually increase the risk of spinal fractures when stopped. Again, I’m sorry that you have to go through these painful times and hope you’ll recover soon!

      • Carol

        Thank you for your reply, your replying gives me confidence in the many things you post. As for Prolia and osteoporosis I am now on Prolia. I did my research before starting the medication. I talked to many friends that have been on the medication for years and have suffered no side effects. My husband is a dentist and he nor his colleagues have had a case concerning the jaw, those cases are very rare and generally connected to something else. I am well aware of the fact that once I have started Prolia I will have to take the by-annual injection for the rest of my life. That is a small price to pay to avoid the pain that I have suffered and the hump and poor posture I now have due to the compressions. If I could have a do over it would be to start the medication when my physician first recommended it. I have benefited from so many things from your program and appreciate all that you do in research, but this one thing on genetics and osteoporosis I’m sad to say is incorrect. Sometime the medication is needed.

  4. Melody

    Thanks for the information! I really appreciate it.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      My pleasure, Melody!

  5. Pat C

    I appreciate all the information you have given in this article, but there are those of us that have all the healthy lifestyles….exercised all my life, super nutritious diet, lean and muscular, but because of my genes and early menopause, have still acquired osteoporosis.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Fortunately, there are natural ways to improve your bone health, Pat, regardless of your genetic markings 🙂

  6. Ita

    Thank you, Ita.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re welcome, Ita!

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