Previous small studies have found low bone density among postmenopausal breast cancer survivors and accelerated bone loss after chemotherapy for breast cancer suggesting an increased risk for fractures among breast cancer survivors, according to background information in the article. Previous studies on the risk of fractures have been inconsistent.
Zhao Chen, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the University of Arizona, Tucson, and colleagues, using data from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) Observational Study (WHI-OS), compared the occurrence of bone fractures over the course of 5.1 years in 5,298 women who reported a history of breast cancer with a reference group of 80,848 women who had no cancer history. Women reported annually in questionnaires on fractures that had been diagnosed by a physician; the fractures were categorized into four groups: hip; forearm/wrist; clinical vertebral (spine or back); and other clinical fractures.
"Using the age distribution of the entire WHI-OS cohort, we computed age-standardized fracture rates per 10,000 person-years [number of persons times number of years of observation] for breast cancer survivors and the reference group," the authors write. "Except for the hip fracture rate, fracture rates were higher in the breast cancer survivors than in the reference group. Overall, breast cancer survivors may sustain 68.6 excess fractures per 10,000 person-years compared with other women in the same age group."
The increased risk for total fractures among breast cancer survivors persisted even after adjustment for other risk factors, including fracture history lifestyle, medication use and the use of hormonal replacement therapy, the researchers fou
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