A screening programme to identify menopausal women who may go on to suffer fractures by measuring their bone mineral density has been dismissed by a Swedish research team.

They have discovered that bone mineral density tests cannot determine who will suffer a fracture due to osteoporosis. Bone density is a constant variable, they found, and studies among women who suffered hip fractures concluded that they had better levels of bone density than others who never had a fracture.

Researchers from the Swedish Council on Technology Assessment in Health Care, based in Stockholm, say that other screening programmes need to be developed if doctors can pinpoint exactly who may suffer a fracture.

Osteoporosis low bone density which can lead to easy fractures occurs in up to 30 per cent of women aged over 50. The most common fractures are hip fractures, and were suffered by 300,000 women in the US in 1991 alone. In Europe, the Scandinavian countries have the highest prevalence of fractures associated with osteoporosis, and the incidence is increasing beyond the levels expected for an aging population.

See WDDTY vol 6, no 12 for our osteoporosis special report.

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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