Economy Is Driving Many Osteoporotic Women To Retire Later

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

More than 8,000 women suffer from postmenopausal osteoporosis (PMO) in D.C. and more than 10,000 are at risk for the disease. According to a census report on the prevalence of osteoporosis, the number of women suffering from the disease is predicted to increase in D.C. by more than 30 percent by 2020.

Despite this predicted increase, a national Harris Interactive survey commissioned by the Know My Bones Council showed (n=889 with PMO; n=912 without PMO) that many women suffering from osteoporosis are not optimally managing their disease despite the need and desire to work longer, putting them at greater risk for fracture. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation fracture may lead to chronic pain, disability, and even death.

The Council, led by the National Osteoporosis Foundation and the Society for Women's Health Research, announced results from a national survey of more than 1,800 American women, which revealed that one-out-of-five women with PMO are retiring later than anticipated and nearly half (48 percent) blame the current economy. Despite the need to work longer, half of the women with PMO are fearful that the disease will limit their ability to work. However, the research shows that many women are not optimally managing their osteoporosis.

"As a practicing physician for 30 years, I am not only concerned that the number of D.C. residents who will suffer from osteoporosis is expected to grow by 30 percent in the coming decade, I am alarmed that many women already suffering from the disease are not optimally managing their bone health," said James Simon, M.D., Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at George Washington University. "In these economic times, it is important for women with osteoporosis to maintain their independence as they age - particularly if they are expected to remain in the work force longer. I encourage all women with postmenopausal osteoporosis to talk to their healthcare provider about the best ways to proactively manage their disease."

National survey results show many women with postmenopausal osteoporosis are not optimally managing their disease:

* Less than half (46 percent) of women with PMO knew their bone density score

o Women with PMO were no more likely to know their bone density score than those without the disease (46 percent versus 44 percent)

* More than a quarter (27 percent) of the survey respondents reported that they often do not take their osteoporosis medication

* Only a little more than one-third (35 percent) of women reported initiating discussion of the disease with their doctor

The Council is unified with the goal of encouraging women living with PMO, including those in D.C. to prioritize their bone health and to seek information that will empower them to fight the disease. The Council, led by the National Osteoporosis Foundation and the Society for Women's Health Research, also includes the American Association of University Women, the American Business Women's Association, the National Women's Health Resource Center, and the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health with sponsorship and participation from Amgen.

The Council encourages women to seek information and to take charge of their osteoporosis by visiting, a Web site that will grow overtime and provide alerts and information about bone health and optimally managing osteoporosis.


About Osteoporosis

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis, often referred to as a "silent disease," is increasing in significance as the population of our nation both increases and ages. The World Health Organization, the National Osteoporosis Foundation and the U.S. Surgeon General have officially declared osteoporosis a public health crisis. In fact, osteoporosis and associated fractures are a significant cause of mortality and morbidity.

* In the US today, nearly eight million women suffer from osteoporosis

* Almost 34 million Americans are estimated to have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis

* Half of women over 50 in the US will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture in her lifetime

* The impact of breaking a bone is significant and often leads to a downward spiral for the patient

o A woman who has broken a bone as a result of osteoporosis has more than an 8 out of 10 greater chance of breaking another bone

o One in four women who have broken a bone will fracture again within a year

o Half of the women who break a hip will permanently need assistance to walk

o Nearly one in four women who have broken a hip will die within one year

* By 2025, the annual direct costs of treating osteoporosis fractures in the US are estimated at $25 billion

With menopause, bone loss occurs faster than new bone can form as a result of lower levels of estrogen, leading to osteoporosis. In fact, women can lose up to 20 percent of their bone density in the five to seven years after menopause begins. This decreased bone mineral density weakens the bone and puts women at higher risk for fractures or broken bones.


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