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Awareness of osteoporosis risk for fracture alarmingly low among women

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

A study of women shows that most are unaware of the implications of osteoporosis that can lead to debilitating fractures, found in a study that researchers say is a major public health concern. Findings from the Global Longitudinal Study of Osteoporosis in Women (GLOW) study showed that just 43 percent of women in the study diagnosed with osteoporosis perceived themselves to be a higher risk for fractures from bone loss compared to other women. Thirty three percent of women in the study failed to recognize their risk factors.

"We've found that many women aren't making the connection between their risk factors and the serious consequences of fractures," said the lead author of the paper, Ethel Siris, MD, GLOW investigator and Director of the Toni Stabile Osteoporosis Center of the Columbia University Medical Center, New York-Presbyterian Hospital. "Without a clear understanding of their risks, women cannot begin to protect themselves from fracture."

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The GLOW study looked at women from 10 countries in Europe, North America and Australia and included more than 60,000 women who were postmenopausal – a time when bone loss that leads to osteoporosis occurs from declining estrogen levels.

The impact of osteoporosis can lead to disability, decreased mobility and decline in quality of life. The researchers say the findings are a major public health concern that can cause human suffering and a significant cost related to health care.

Women should remain aware of their risk factors for osteoporosis and take action. Three or more alcoholic beverage daily, low weight, two or more falls in the past year, rheumatoid arthritis, a history of bone fractures and older age put women a high risk for osteoporosis that can progress and lead to fractures and debilitation. Long term use of steroids also leads to loss of bone density.

The study authors say education is needed for women to understand the implications of osteoporosis, and the need is urgent. Hip fracture from a fall associated with osteoporosis increases the risk of dying. The GLOW study shows that a large percentage of women are unaware of that they are at high risk for fractures from bone loss and osteoporosis.