About one in three women and one in 12 men over the age of 50 will develop osteoporosis.

The condition can cause crippling problems but, for many people, the first time they find out something wrong is after they break bone.

The National Osteoporosis Society (NOS) has launched a new campaign to raise awareness of the condition and show that plenty can done to stop it from developing.

The charity has also joined forces with Brighton and Hove City Primary Care Trust to appoint a specialist nurse to work in the city.

Henriette Hardiman will visit hospitals, clinics and surgeries to check out patients who have broken bone and may be developing the condition.

The patient will then invited to a specialist clinic where they will be tested for osteoporosis and given advice and information.

If the condition is caught early enough, it can stopped from progressing but experts say the earlier people start to take care themselves, the better the chances of avoiding getting the disease in the first place.

Anthea Franks is chairman of the Brighton and Hove branch of the society.

She went through an early menopause at the age of and a scan at the time showed her bones had already started thinning.

She was able to avoid the painful fractures associated with the condition because she had an early warning.

Mrs Franks said: "Osteoporosis can start at any age.

So many women are at risk from it but don't do anything about it.

"I am delighted at Henriette's appointment. If we can catch the condition early, makes all the difference."

The new nursing post will also involve training other nurses and working on schemes aimed at giving people at risk sufficient warning before they start showing any signs.

The NOS says the number of people suffering fractures because of the disease are reaching record levels.

Broken bones due to osteporosis have risen to more than 300,000 a year -

that is 800 daily.

Without treatment it can can cause painful and disabling fractures, particularly in the wrist, hip and spine.

NOS director Linda Edwards said: "We are very concerned that the number of fractures as a result of osteoporosis is on the rise.

"Every two minutes someone will break a bone due to osteopososis and, with an ageing population, the situation is only going to get worse unless people take steps now to persuade the Government to spend more on treatment and prevention.

"It is largely treatable and preventable and by introducing new schemes such as bringing in osteoporosis nurses, we can help ensure this debilitating disease becomes a thing of the past."

The bones in the skeleton are made of a thick outer shell and a strong inner mesh filled with collagen (protein), calcium salts and other minerals.

The inside looks like honeycomb, with blood vessels and bone marrow in the spaces between bone.

Osteoporosis occurs when the holes between the bone become bigger, making it fragile and liable to break easily. The whole skeleton is usually affected but the condition most commonly causes breaks in the wrist, spine and hip.

Everyone is potentially at risk of osteoporosis because bones tend to get thinner as people get older but there are factors that increase the risk.

For women this can be a lack of oestrogen caused by early menopause or hysterectomy.

Both men and women are at risk if they have been taking high-dose corticosteroid tablets for conditions such as arthritis and asthma for a long period of time.

They are also at risk if there is a close family history of osteoporosis or they have medical conditions such as liver and thyroid problems or Crohn's Disease. Heavy drinking and smoking can also potentially cause problems.

People wanting to find out
more about the condition can call the osteoporosis helpline on 0800 0566810 or Mrs Franks on 01273 885321.