New model makes diagnosing osteoporosis easier

As any expert will tell you, osteoporosis is complex and hard to predict. Most clinicians treat it only when they detect low bone density, viewing this as the definitive test. But machines to detect low bone density are expensive and far from universally available. Moreover, bone density measurements may not adequately predict osteoporosis. Therefore, given the paucity of diagnostic options, millions face unknown threats of debilitating fractures, while others may receive treatment they may not need.

Now, researchers at the World Health Organization's Collaborating Center for Metabolic Bone Diseases in Sheffield, UK hope to make osteoporosis prediction more accurate and accessible. A new model described at the IOF World Congress on Osteoporosis in Toronto, Canada, identifies susceptible people according to country-specific risk factors, including age, height, and weight, among several others (conference abstract PL2). By integrating these factors, the model predicts the likelihood of hip and other osteoporotic fractures over ten years.

Osteoporosis fracture risk varies worldwide by as much as ten-fold, said presenter John Kanis, the Center's director, who suggests higher risks in wealthier countries may reflect more sedentary lifestyles. "The model will be calibrated to specific countries and individuals according their specific risk profiles," he said. "Our goal is to identify people who genuinely face a high risk of fracture in addition to those who don't, so that treatment can be more optimally directed."

Obesity Harms Bones

In a different presentation, Dr. Hong-Wen Deng of the University of Missouri, in Kansas City, and colleagues from China, showed that obesity can accelerate bone loss (conference abstract P152). The finding undermines prior assumptions that obesity--a risk factor for everything from diabetes to heart disease--made skeletons stronger and more resistant to fractures. But Deng's research showed that the bone st

Contact: Andrew Leopold
International Osteoporosis Foundation

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