fracture is a serious problem. It leads to death in 20% of
patients in the year after occurrence, and approximately $14
billion was spent on fractures in 1995 alone in the U.S. Although
the best predictor for fracture risk in postmenopausal women
is low bone mineral density (BMD), or thinning bones, a recent
study in the Journal of the American Medical Association
shows that not enough women are aware of their low BMD levels.
The National Osteoporosis Risk Assessment, a long-term osteoporosis
study of postmenopausal women, was utilized in the study to
determine BMD levels, risk factors for thinning bones, and
relation of BMD to fractures. Two-hundred thousand women at
least 50 years old were recruited from over 4,000 medical
practices and examined for bone density at the forearm, finger,
or heel using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scanning
- the best method for calculating BMD.
Almost half of the women in the study had thinning bones
that they were previously unaware of, subjecting them to an
increased risk for hip fracture. Women who were older; had
a family history of low BMD; were of Asian/Hispanic background;
used cortisone; and smoked were most likely to have lower
BMD. Risk of fracture was four times greater in women with
osteoporosis in the year following the examination. Osteopenia,
a more mild form of bone thinning, doubled the odds of fracture.
Based on current U.S. Census Bureau estimates, this study
shows that nearly 20 million women in the U.S. may have low
bone density and are unaware of it. If you are a woman age
50 or older, have your doctor measure your BMD, and if it
is lower than normal, ask about effective treatment. Also,
be sure to eat calcium rich foods, such as milk and cheese,
and exercise regularly.
Siris ES, Miller PD, Barrett-Connor E, et al. Identification
and fracture outcomes of undiagnosed low bone mineral density
in postmenopausal women: Results from the National Osteoporosis
Risk Assessment. Journal of the American Medical Association
2001:286(22), pp. 2815-2822.
For additional information on women’s health, visit http://www.chiroweb.com/tyh/women.html.