From: Reuters
Published November 27, 2007 04:14 PM

Osteoporosis fractures may be bigger problem: study

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Bone-weakening osteoporosis may be to blame for more fractures than previously thought, researchers reported on Tuesday.

Bones broken in high-impact automobile crashes or severe falls may have first been weakened by osteoporosis, said a team led by Dawn Mackey of the San Francisco Coordinating Center.

Previously it had been assumed that such fractures occurred simply because of the trauma involved.

As a result, those injuries have not been included among the estimated 1.5 million low-impact osteoporosis-related fractures that occur every year in the United States, the team wrote in a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Nor have those who suffered such fractures been told they might be prone to breaks generally and should be evaluated for osteoporosis.

The condition, caused by mineral loss that weakens bone, occurs more often and earlier in women. Calcium, vitamin D, exercise and drug treatments can help counter the weakness.

Low-impact fractures linked to osteoporosis are those where bones break in falls from a standing height or less.

They looked at studies involving more than 14,000 U.S. men and women aged 65 and up and found bone mineral density was "strongly associated with high-trauma nonspine fractures in older women and men."

It also found such breaks "predicted subsequent fractures to the same extent as low-trauma nonspine fractures in women."

In a commentary in the same journal, Dr. Sundeep Khosla of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, wrote, "Fractures previously defined as due to high trauma ... can no longer be dismissed as being unrelated to osteoporosis."

"Older patients who sustain such fractures should be considered for bone mineral density testing and, if clinically indicated, further evaluation for osteoporosis," Khosla added.

In a second related study in the same issue, doctors at the University of California at Davis School of Medicine in Sacramento said they had developed a formula to help predict which post-menopausal women are most at risk for a broken hip.

Age, health, weight, height, race or ethnicity, physical activity, fracture history after 54, parental hip fracture, smoking, corticosteroid use and diabetes are all influences.

The findings came from data collected from thousands of women who participated in a study called the Women's Health Initiative.

(Reporting by Michael Conlon; Editing by Maggie Fox)

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