Osteoporosis Risk Often Downplayed

Photo: X-ray of a hand

Many people take health for
granted instead of stregthening
the bones early; © C. Hautumm/

The problem: They are missing preventive measures that if taken now, could decrease their future danger of developing the disease. In the study of 300 Canadian men and women, researchers found significant age and gender differences in how people perceived their susceptibility to osteoporosis. Specifically, middle-aged and older women scored significantly higher than younger participants and men, suggesting that older women believe they are at greater risk.

While the disease does strike twice as many older women as it does men, men are also susceptible to osteoporosis. Because people can change their habits to lower their risk, researchers are looking at people’s beliefs in order to develop and target prevention programmes to the particular needs of each demographic.

The best defense against the disease is building strong bones in childhood and young adulthood. Anybody can reduce their risk, however, by eating a well-balanced diet that is high in calcium and vitamin D and by participating in weight-bearing exercises or sports.

In the study, motivation to take preventive action and the perceived seriousness of the disease were similar across all age and gender groups - low - suggesting that people are not aware of the serious consequences of osteoporosis and that younger men and women are unlikely to change their behaviour unless they change their beliefs.

Karen Chapman-Novakofski, Ph.D., at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, is encouraged that the susceptibility scores in the study show some progress in awareness. “Years ago,” she said, “we found that younger women thought older women should know more about the condition and that older women thought it was too late for them, and that younger women should know more.”

MEDICA.de; Source: Health Behavior News Service