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Information about Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a significant health problem that affects more than 22 million women in the United States and potentially 200 million worldwide. This disease is characterized by diminished structural integrity of the skeleton (particular of the trabecular "spongy" bone) which results in an increased risk of fracture.

Osteoporosis is a condition that develops silently over a period of years, eventually progressing to a point where a fracture can easily occur causing pain and disability. The post-menopausal female population has the highest incidence of osteoporosis and the highest rate of morbidity and mortality due to osteoporosis. Throughout life, bones maintain themselves through a process known as remodeling in which old bone matrix is removed (resorption) and new bone matrix is formed. In early adulthood, the levels of bone resorption and bone formation are balanced. During menopause, estrogen levels decline causing bone resorption to exceed bone formation, resulting in a loss of bone mass.

Studies indicate that women may lose several percent of their skeleton each year, with the most rapid loss occurring in the years immediately after menopause. The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that osteoporosis is responsible for approximately 1.5 million fractures annually in the United States. Hip fractures lead to the most serious consequences - as many as one in every five hip fracture patients may die from complications within a year after fracture, one in every four will require long-term care and an even higher percentage of hip fracture patients will never return to an active and independent lifestyle.

Until recently, osteoporosis was thought to be a natural consequence of aging. However, with the increased focus on women's health issues and preventive medical practices, this attitude is changing. over 70 clinical studies are currently in progress to assess the safety and effectiveness of new therapies to treat this disease. This push by the pharmaceutical industry to develop new therapies, coupled with the increased recognition of the disease as a preventable and treatable condition, bodes well for women who want to maintain independent and active lifestyles.


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