Steroid-induced Osteoporosis

Ewa Sewerynek; Michal Stuss


Aging Health. 2012;8(5):471-477. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Glucocorticoids are quite commonly used in the treatment of many diseases and are one of the most common causes of secondary osteoporosis. Osteoporosis associated with chronic steroid therapy, appears to be an important medical problem. In the USA, glucocorticoids are prescribed to 1 million patients a year. Data from the UK reveal as many as 1.6 million prescriptions for steroid agents within 10 years. Glucocorticoids are used by 0.9% of the total population and approximately 2.5% in the age group of 70–79 years. It is very important to develop the knowledge about osteoporosis, which accompanies chronic steroid therapy, especially with regard to effective counteraction and prevention rules, not only among primary care physicians, but also among patients.


Steroids are a valuable group of drugs used in the treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases for their strong immunosuppressive effect. The discovery of cortisone and cortisol in the 1930s was the beginning of the steroid therapy era.[1,2] Today, synthetic derivatives of glucocorticosteroids are successfully used in many fields of medicine, for example, rheumatology, allergology, pulmonology, dermatology, orthopedics and hematology. However, their chronic administration is associated with numerous systemic side effects, such as diabetes, osteoporosis and susceptibility to infection.