US Future Full of Fractures

Oct 15, 2004 -- Unless Americans start getting enough calcium, vitamin D and physical activity, their future is likely to include osteoporosis accompanied by a lot of broken bones. This is the gist of a report by the US Surgeon General entitled Bone Health and Osteoporosis The full report is more than 400 pages long and took two years to prepare.

This comprehensive report makes a dire prediction -- that by the year 2020, one in two Americans over age 50 will be at risk for fractures from osteoporosis or low bone mass. Ten million Americans already do have osteoporosis. Many don't discover that they have osteoporosis until they experience an unexpectedly broken bone.

The Surgeon General's report tries to dispel myths associated with osteoporosis. For example, the segment of the population suffering from osteoporosis or other bone disease is NOT small, osteoporosis is NOT only a problem for older white women, diagnosing osteoporosis is NOT a lengthy and painful process, osteoporosis is NOT unresponsive to treatment, and osteoporosis CAN be prevented in the first place

In order to make sure that all the information contained in the report is readily available to the general public, there is not only a free pamphlet entitled The 2004 Surgeon General's Report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis. What it Means To You, but 4 different fact sheets and even a streaming video entitled Osteoporosis in the Family.

Comment: Many of us know of situations in our own families where osteoporosis has had serious consequences. An uncle who broke his hip when he slipped on a wet sidewalk while getting the morning newspaper, a mother whose COPD worsened as her spinal column compressed and her rib cage collapsed, a stepmother who could not walk because it became impossible to surgically repair and re-repair her osteoporotic hips. All of these family members might have lived longer if their osteoporosis had been diagnosed and aggressively treated at an earlier age. Certainly, their quality of life in their final years would have been greatly improved.

Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D.
Frederick Hecht, M.D.
Medical Editors,

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By 2020, One In Two Americans Over Age 50 Will Be At Risk For Fractures From Osteoporosis Or Low Bone Mass

The Surgeon General issues first-ever report on nation's bone health

U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S., warned today in a new report that by 2020, half of all American citizens older than 50 will be at risk for fractures from osteoporosis and low bone mass if no immediate action is taken by individuals at risk, doctors, health systems, and policymakers. This new report, "Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General" says that 10 million Americans over the age of 50 have osteoporosis, the most common bone disease, while another 34 million are at risk for developing osteoporosis. And each year, roughly 1.5 million people suffer a bone fracture related to osteoporosis.

This report is the first-ever Surgeon General's report on the topic of bone health. Osteoporosis and other bone diseases, such as Paget's disease and osteogenesis imperfecta can lead to a downward spiral in physical health and quality of life, including losing the ability to walk, stand up, or dress, and can lead to premature death.