MONDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has just expanded its osteoporosis screening recommendation to include younger women who have risk factors for the debilitating disease, which causes bones to become abnormally brittle and prone to fracture.
The newly released guidelines expand routine screening to include all women 65 and older as well as younger women at increased risk of bone fractures.
"This [new recommendation] extends it down to any postmenopausal-age woman whose risk is the same as a 65-year-old," said Dr. Ned Calonge, chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).
One example, he said, might be a postmenopausal woman not yet 65 who weighs under 125 pounds, smokes, drinks and has parents with a history of bone fractures. All of those factors -- thin frame, smoking, excess alcohol and family history -- boost the risk of osteoporosis, he explained.
The new recommendations are published in the Jan. 18 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The USPSTF, which issues health-related recommendations after reviewing the available medical evidence, is sponsored by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and composed of an independent panel of experts in preventive and primary care.
The guidelines suggest that doctors and policymakers look at the evidence underlying the task force recommendations, but also tailor their decisions to the specific patient or situation.
Noting that the new recommendations update the USPSTF's 2002 guidelines, Calonge reported that in that year, "we had insufficient evidence to suggest women under age 60 would benefit." More current research, however, "suggests that treating those women leads to reduced fractures," he said.
Osteoporosis screening "is a test that patients should be asking about and clinicians should be providing," he sa
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