Osteoporosis is a disease characterised by low bone mass and deterioration of bone strength. Fragile bones are more prone to fracture. Common fractures include wrist, arm, leg and ribs, as well as the hips and spine. Osteoporosis is often called 'the silent thief' because bone loss occurs without symptoms.
Individuals may not know they have osteoporosis until their bones are so weak that a strain, bump or fall causes a fracture. In Australia, two in three women, and one in three men over the age of 60 will suffer an osteoporotic fracture in their remaining lifetime. Currently over 2 million Australians are affected by the disease. Osteoporotic problems cost the Australian community an estimated $1 billion per year in direct costs. The total cost, which includes factors such as carers and lost income, is estimated to be $7 billion per year (or $20 million every day). Aside from these financial costs, fractures often affect mobility, lead to loss of confidence and quality of life, and increases the risk of dying prematurely.
Although osteoporosis usually occurs in older people, it can be seen in children and young adults
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Fat and obesity gene also affects hip fracture
25 Sep 2013
Garvan researchers have demonstrated a strong association between the FTO (fat and obesity) gene and hip fracture in women. While the gene is already well known to affect diabetes and body fat, this is the first study to show that its high-risk variant can increase the risk of hip fracture by as much as 82%.
Obesity may explain reduced bone fracture worldwide
10 Apr 2013
A Garvan study shows that women – but not men – with more abdominal fat are less at risk of bone fracture. This may explain why global rates of fracture are declining at the same time as obesity is increasing. The data come from the ongoing Dubbo Osteoporosis Epidemiology Study (DOES).
A step towards preventing ‘bone failure’ in Australia
07 Nov 2011
In collaboration with pharmaceutical companies and other stakeholders, Garvan will be running awareness-raising seminars about ‘bone failure’, with separate sessions for members of the public and GPs. The program, known as Health Education for Longer Life in Osteoporosis (HELLO) has its inaugural sessions on 26 and 27 November. Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC, Governor General of Australia, will be opening the Patient Seminar on 27 November.