Many Women Not Doing Enough to Prevent Osteoporosis
DC, 5 May 2004
Source: National Women's Health Resource Center
Governor Ann Richards Teams with National Women's Health Resource
Center to Launch 'Keep Your Inches Campaign'
fears of breaking bones, developing a hunched back or losing mobility
as a result of osteoporosis, 59 percent of women over age 40 have
not asked their doctor about their bone health or had a bone mineral
density (BMD) test, according to a survey released today by the
National Women's Health Resource Center (NWHRC).
number of women who are not taking simple preventative steps against
osteoporosis is a concern considering that the disease is highly
preventable and treatable. If osteoporosis is left untreated, the
disease causes bones to become fragile (or weak) and more likely
to break. In fact, today, one in two women over age 50 will have
an osteoporosis-related fracture in her lifetime .
is why former Texas Governor Ann Richards is leading the charge
to help women fight osteoporosisshe has learned firsthand
how serious the disease can be. Despite watching her mother, father
and grandmother suffer from osteoporosis, Governor Richards did
not speak with her doctor about her personal risk until she began
to suffer from the onset of the disease.
my collars did not seem to fit right anymore and began creeping
up my neck. It was then that I realized I might be shrinking," said
Governor Richards. "After I broke two bones in my left hand, I asked
my doctor for a BMD test. I was diagnosed with osteopenia, the early
stages of osteoporosis, which I have been dedicated to overcoming
educate women about osteoporosis and the steps they can take to
prevent the disease, Governor Richards has teamed up with the NWHRC
for a nationwide awareness initiative called the "Keep Your Inches
Campaign" or KIC Osteoporosis, a reference to the loss of height
often associated with the disease.
is critical that women who are postmenopausal realize that they
are automatically at risk for osteoporosis," said Amy Niles, president
and CEO, NWHRC. "If they have additional risk factors, such as family
history of osteoporosis, they are at an even greater risk. However,
there are steps women can take to reduce their risk for the disease,
and it all begins with knowing their personal risk factors and beginning
a dialogue with their healthcare professional."
Won't Affect Me!
survey also found that while most of the women surveyed know about
the severe consequences of osteoporosis, most women do not relate
this information to their own health. In fact, 65 percent of women
are aware that osteoporosis can be deadly, but only one percent
are concerned about dying from the disease.
women do not understand the implications of having osteoporosis,"
said Ethel Siris, MD, professor and clinical director of the Osteoporosis
Prevention and Treatment Center at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical
Center. "We know today that untreated osteoporosis may result in
devastating fractures as people age."
while approximately 90 percent of women had at least one contributing
risk factor for osteoporosis, almost two-thirds do not believe they
are at risk for the disease. According to the survey, the top four
osteoporosis risk factors that respondents identified were:
or post-menopausal (67 percent)
body frame (35 percent)
smoking (25 percent)
history of osteoporosis (22 percent)
Changes and Beyond
all women surveyed (90 percent) are taking some form of calcium
supplement for bone loss protection. However, in the postmenopausal
years, taking calcium may not be enough. Further discussions with
a healthcare provider are important in identifying additional measures
that women need to take to ensure they are protected from osteoporosis.
there is no known cure for osteoporosis, there are steps women can
take to reduce their risk for the disease including dietary changes,
exercise and prescription medications.
recent study about estrogen, called the Women's Health Initiative,
has led many women to discontinue hormone replacement therapy, leaving
them at increased risk for bone loss," continued Dr. Siris. "While
all women need adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D, some women
may need additional protective benefits against bone loss and osteoporosis.
This is a decision that must be made between a woman and her healthcare
professional following a complete evaluation, which involves a bone
women who need more protective benefits, there are several prescription
medications available to slow or stop bone loss, increase bone density
and reduce fracture risk.
can get more information about osteoporosis and its treatments,
as well as a downloadable KIC Checklist, by visiting www.healthywomen.org.
The KIC checklist helps women assess their risk for osteoporosis
and provides a list of questions to guide a discussion with their
Communications Research conducted a telephone omnibus survey of
1,008 American women ages 40 and older. The purpose of the KIC survey
was to determine women's perceptions of and treatment behaviors
surrounding osteoporosis and bone health.
National Women's Health Resource Center
National Women's Health Resource Center is the nation's leading
independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to educating women
of all ages about health and wellness issues. Its programs include
an award-winning newsletter, the National Women's Health Report,
public education campaigns and its website, www.healthywomen.org.
"Keep Your Inches Campaign" was developed in collaboration with
Eli Lilly and Company. Ann Richards is a paid spokesperson for Eli
Lilly and Company.
National Osteoporosis Foundation, www.NOF.org.
Women's Health Resource Center, www.healthywomen.org.