Despite its devastating health repercussions, osteoporosis is too frequently misunderstood and disregarded.

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Osteoporosis is a degenerative, crippling bone disease that affects postmenopausal women more frequently. A recent study found that many women either misunderstand or underestimate its possible impacts, despite the fact that it is one of the four health conditions that are now considered to be the most risky. As a result, the illness frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated. The findings of the study have now been made available online in the journal Menopause.Since it has been linked to higher death rates, a major financial burden on society, and poor impacts on quality of life, osteoporosis has grown in importance as a global public health issue. It is a bone disease that causes weak, brittle bones that are more prone to breaking because it occurs when bone mineral density and bone mass diminish.nn

According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, one in three women aged older than 50 years will experience fragility fractures, including the most severe, hip fracture. Approximately 24% of these women die within one year of hip fracture, and 40% of the survivors will lose the ability to walk independently.n

Women are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis than men, especially as they age, because the hormone changes that happen during menopause directly affect bone density. Despite its growing prevalence because of an adverse health effects, a new study out of China found that most women are only familiar with the disease’s name and lack an understanding of the dangers it poses, as well as the importance of early diagnosis and treatment.n

In this study of 240 postmenopausal women, the overall prevalence of osteoporosis reached 52.08%. Approximately 60% of the study participants understood a little bit about osteoporosis, whereas nearly 10% had never heard of the disease.n

Most disturbing was the fact that 65% had not undergone any form of bone mineral density testing, despite the fact that 52.92% of participants had experienced fractures, most of which were attributable to osteoporosis. Most of these women did not undergo treatment because they were unaware that they had the disease. Among the participants, 41.25% stated that they would only accept osteoporosis-related treatment after experiencing adverse events, such as pain.n

Among other misconceptions, most of the study participants believed that osteoporosis was less dangerous than heart disease, and 37.92% of the study participants expressed the view that hypertension and diabetes were significantly more dangerous than osteoporosis.n

The researchers in this latest study theorized that misconceptions like these, as well as a general lack of awareness, are primary reasons why so few women are pursuing osteoporosis testing and treatment. Without effective and early therapies, the number of osteoporotic fractures and the associated economic costs are expected to double by 2035.n

The results of this study are published in the article “The prevalence of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women in urban Tianjin, China and its related factors.”n

“This study draws attention to the fact that osteoporosis is a global health threat with a significant effect on morbidity and mortality, as well as an enormous socioeconomic burden. From a public health perspective, education is needed to improve awareness of the disease. Clinicians can help postmenopausal women optimize their skeletal health by assessing risk factors for fracture, reducing modifiable osteoporosis or fracture,” says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director.

More information:
n Jie Liu et al, The prevealence of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women in urban Tianjin, China and its related factors, Menopause (2023).

n Provided byn The North American Menopause Society
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