Experts Predict Hip-Fracture Epidemic

HealthDay News—June 16, 2006

The world faces an epidemic of hip fractures over the next few decades as more and more people’s bones weaken from osteoporosis as they age.

Researchers estimate that at least 6.3 million people worldwide will suffer a hip fracture in the year 2050 – more than triple the 1.7 million cases recorded in 1990.

The trend toward more fractures could be turned around, however, if doctors and the public take advantage of what’s known about osteoporosis prevention. A diet with adequate amounts of calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin D is one way to prevent osteoporosis.

Drugs such as Fosamax can help prevent bone loss, said Joseph M. Lane, M.D., attending orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery. “If people took these drugs, we could cut the anticipated rate by 50 percent, purely by following the medical recommendations.”

Money is one reason Americans don’t take the necessary medications, Lane said. “In Canada, where medicine is free, the anticipated number of hip fractures has dropped.”

Doctors have learned another lesson about reducing the risk of major hip fractures, Lane said: Swift treatment of minor fractures can effectively cut the risk for a major break.

Right now, Lane said, medical groups such as the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons are developing programs to ensure that small fractures are treated quickly. “The academy feels that a small fracture is a call to arms,” he said.

Read an Internet version of the HealthDay article.

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