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New Osteoporosis Screening Recommendations Issued
Date:1/18/2011

id. The most commonly used tests to screen for bone health are dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) of the hip and lumbar spine and quantitative ultrasound of the heel, according to the USPSTF.

The task force also noted that therapies to prevent bone fractures from osteoporosis included adequate calcium intake, vitamin D intake, weight-bearing exercise and several approved drug treatments.

According to the new report by the panel, some 12 million Americans over age 50 are expected to have osteoporosis by 2012. Over half of all postmenopausal women will develop a fracture related to osteoporosis during their lifetime, including 15 percent who will suffer a hip fracture. Hip fractures, in particular, are linked with chronic pain, disability, loss of independence and an increased risk of death.

And these risks are not confined to women. Fewer men than women develop osteoporosis, but more than one-third of men who sustain a hip fracture die within a year.

Nonetheless, the USPSTF found insufficient evidence to recommend screening for men, Calonge said. "That alerts the research world [that] there is an important research gap," he said.

The new recommendations are now closer to those issued by other groups, including the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), said Dr. Robert R. Recker, president of the foundation. The NOF now recommends bone mineral density testing for women 65 and older, as well as some younger postmenopausal women, based on their risk factors, he said.

Unlike the task force, however, NOF also recommends testing for all men 70 and older, and for men aged 50 to 69 with risk factors, Calonge added.

The recommendations issued by the task force do get the ear of doctors in practice, Recker said. "A lot of primary care practitioners have a list of these various recommendations by USPSTF in their office and tend to refer to it."

Studies have shown that managing osteoporosis pays off by reducing
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