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16 Jun 2016

Know Your Bones: new online bone health assessment tool launches

Garvan and Osteoporosis Australia are today delighted to announce the launch of Know Your Bones, a freely available online tool that helps consumers to understand their own risk of bone fracture.

The Garvan Institute of Medical Research and Osteoporosis Australia are today delighted to announce the launch of Know Your Bones (, an Australia-first, freely available online tool that helps consumers to understand their own risk of bone fracture.

Know Your Bones was launched by the Federal Minister for Health, The Hon Sussan Ley, at an event at Garvan today. The full media release is available on the Osteoporosis Australia website.

The Know Your Bones tool provides a personalised estimate of bone fracture risk. Evidence-based and consumer-friendly, it takes approximately 5 minutes to complete, and aims to empower consumers to initiate discussions about bone health and osteoporosis with their GP.

The tool collects information about the user’s age, gender, weight or bone mineral density, history of fracture, history of recent falls, and lifestyle factors. All users (aged 18 and above) receive a summary for further discussion with their GP – and, for people aged 50 and above, the tool provides a personalised assessment of fracture risk over five and 10 years.

Osteoporosis, a disease of reduced bone strength and increased fracture risk, is a major national health issue for Australia, affecting over 1 million Australians. Contrary to popular stereotypes, osteoporosis affects both men and women, and can affect individuals across a wide age range.

 “It affects virtually every bone in your body, not just your spine or your hip,” says Professor John Eisman AO, of Garvan’s Bone Biology Division,  “and it’s associated with huge impacts in terms of quality of life, healthcare costs and even premature mortality.”

Importantly, proper management of osteoporosis could reduce the risk of a subsequent fracture by as much as 80%1 – yet only 20% of women (and an even smaller percentage of men) who come to medical attention for a fracture are investigated and treated to prevent further fractures.

Know Your Bones is underpinned by key research findings from Garvan’s Dubbo Osteoporosis Epidemiology Study, the world’s longest-running large-scale study of osteoporosis in men and women. The Dubbo Study was started in 1989 by Prof Eisman and has been led by him ever since, with key support from Professor Jacqueline Center and Professor Tuan Nguyen, also of the Bone Biology Division.

Prof Center says, “The Dubbo Study has really transformed our understanding of osteoporosis. It has shown that both men and women are affected by osteoporosis, and that bone loss continues in older age. The study has also revealed that once you fracture a bone as a result of poor bone health, the risk of breaking another bone doubles in women, and increases three-to-four-fold in men. Furthermore, there is a strong link between all major fractures and premature death.”

Prof Nguyen adds, “Importantly, the Study’s research findings have made it possible for us to estimate a person’s risk of fracture by looking at a combination of five factors – age, gender, weight or bone mineral density, a history of fracture, and a history of recent falls – which we have incorporated into the Know Your Bones self-assessment tool.

"The upshot is an innovative bone health assessment tool that is a simple, personalised summary of their fracture risk.”

Know Your Bones is the inaugural project of the Bone Alliance, which was formed by Garvan and Osteoporosis Australia in October last year. The Alliance seeks to use innovation and education to address the major health issue of osteoporosis.

Know Your Bones is now live at Garvan and Osteoporosis Australia invite you to hop online and gain insight into your own risk of fracture.

1. Lih A., et al. Targeted intervention reduces refracture rates in patients with incident non-vertebral osteoporotic fractures: a 4-year prospective controlled study. Osteoporosis Int 2011; 22: 849-858.