November 1983

Aging America renews its interest in osteoporosis

Arch Intern Med. 1983;143(11):2055. doi:10.1001/archinte.1983.00350110033008

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The graying of America—a record 11.6% of the nation's 233.7 million people are 65 years or older—means that many disorders associated with advancing age are receiving more attention. Osteoporosis is a prime example.

An estimated 15 million Americans have the disease. Although it may be a "strangely invisible ailment," as the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) suggests, it is not uncommon to see elderly persons whose osteoporosis-associated vertebral wedge fractures have resulted in the so-called "dowager's hump," in loss of height, and sometimes in pain. The ASBMR says that, in addition, some 190,000 hip fractures and wrist fractures annually are attributable to osteoporosis.

The majority of these are in women, for whom osteoporosis is up to eight times more common. Robert P. Heaney, MD, professor of medicine and vice-president for health sciences, Creighton University School of Medicine, Omaha, estimates that by age 65 about 25% of white

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