Economic Downturn: Many Osteoporotic Women Retire Late

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The Know My Bones Council today announced results from a national Harris Interactive survey, which found that one-out-of-five women with postmenopausal osteoporosis (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 (n=889 with PMO; n=912 without PMO) that many women are not optimally managing their osteoporosis, putting them at greater risk for fracture, which may lead to chronic pain, disability and even death.

Formed in 2009, the Know My Bones Council is unified with the goal of encouraging women living with PMO 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.

"As women retire later, bone health is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Women need to make a substantial investment in their bone health to remain active and independent," said Felicia Cosman, MD., Clinical Director of the National Osteoporosis Foundation and Medical Director of the Clinical Research Center at the Helen Hayes Hospital. "Although some women are making signifi cant strides toward better bone health, many are not and need to do more."

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 research also revealed that the lives of women who have experienced an osteoporosis-related fracture were signifi cantly impacted. More women with PMO who have experienced a fracture reported avoiding activities to prevent future fractures than those who have not experienced a fracture (71 percent versus 44 percent). More specifi cally, those who have experienced a fracture are more likely to avoid carrying heavy objects (44 percent versus 29 percent), avoid activities and hobbies (32 percent versus 13 percent) and avoid climbing stairs (23 percent versus six percent).

"Those who have experienced a fracture know all too well the real impact of this serious disease," said Dr. Cosman. "But it should not take a break for women to make bone health a priority. Education is the first step to help prevent broken bones."

After being exposed to educational information as part of the survey, an overwhelming majority of PMO respondents (72 percent) said they would make bone health more of a priority in their life and would even take action to more optimally manage their disease.

"Since four-out-of-five people with osteoporosis are women, it is important for women to prioritize their bone health," said Archelle Georgiou, MD., a member of the Society for Women's Health Research Board of Directors. "We are pleased to see that after learning about the risks of osteoporosis as part of the survey, many women reported that they would take action to make bone health more of a priority by speaking with their doctor, re-evaluating their bone density scores, and educating themselves and others."


In recognition of Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month in May, 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 U.S. 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 their lifetime

* Broken bones due to osteoporosis are more common in women than breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes combined

* 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.