Philip Dopp, BSc
The disturbing statistics with regard to the prevalence of osteoporosis among older women are well known. By 65 years of age, one in four women have experienced an osteoporotic fracture, and the rate of incidence rises to one in two by the age of 75. The incidence of hip fractures among women in the United States is 2 per 1000 patient years by the age of 65 and 30 per 1000 patient years by the age of 85.1 More importantly, hip fractures in the elderly are associated with a high mortality rate. Both men and women are between two and five times more likely to die during the first 12 months following a hip fracture when compared to age and sex matched controls without hip fractures. Given this and other serious consequences, there is much interest in discovering factors that can prevent or slow the rate of development of this disease.1
Pathophysiology of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is the generalized, progressive diminution in bone tissue mass per unit volume which causes skeletal weakness, even though the remaining bone is normal morphologically. It is well known that factors that decrease bone mineral density (BMD) and increase the risk of osteoporotic fractures include family history, white race, female gender, estrogen deficiency, low dietary levels of calcium and vitamin D, limited physical activity or immobility and medications such as corticosteroids.1,2 Currently, there has been an increased interest in determining the role that genetic factors play in the pathogenesis of osteoporosis.