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Many Women Unaware of Increased Fracture Risk

Even those already diagnosed with osteoporosis may not perceive their increased risk

TUESDAY, April 13 (HealthDay News) -- The majority of women with risk factors for osteoporotic-associated fractures are unaware of their increased risk, according to a study published online April 1 in Osteoporosis International.

Ethel Siris, M.D., of the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues used data from the Global Longitudinal Study of Osteoporosis in Women to compare self-perceived fracture risk with actual risk among 60,393 postmenopausal women aged 55 and older. Baseline surveys were mailed to the women between October 2006 and February 2008.

Among women previously diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia, only 43 and 25 percent, respectively, perceived that they were at higher risk for fracture than age-matched peers. Only 33 percent of women reporting two or more risk factors (out of seven possible risk factors for fracture) recognized their increased risk for fracture. Among women who reported having one risk factor, only 19 percent of smokers and 39 percent of those on glucocorticoids realized they were at increased risk.

"There is a consistent under-appreciation of personal risk factors for osteoporosis and fracture," the authors write. "Tools for diagnosis and risk assessment are widely available, as are safe and effective treatments when indicated, but if women fail to appreciate their own risks there will inevitably be a barrier to them receiving appropriate assessment and management. Improved education of both physicians and postmenopausal women about osteoporosis risk factors is needed."

The study was sponsored by a grant from the Alliance for Better Bone Health (Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals and Sanofi-Aventis); several study authors disclosed financial ties to these and other pharmaceutical companies.

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