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When Bones Break: The Consequences of Osteoporosis

Posted Aug 24 2008 1:49pm
ANNOUNCER: Over 28 million Americans have osteoporosis, but few are aware of its dangers. Very often, the disease offers its victims no warning signals at all. Without a single sign, bones become weak and prone to fracture.

RICHARD BOCKMAN, MD, PhD: It is a not well-known fact, but more women actually die of the consequences of osteoporotic fractures than are dying annually as a consequence of breast cancer in the United States.

ETHEL S. SIRIS, MD: Osteoporosis is called the silent disease because the process of thinning of bone may go on for many, many years with absolutely no symptoms, until one day, after a bump or a fall or a slip, something breaks.

ANNOUNCER: And these breaks are often life-altering. Wrist fractures result in loss of function. Spinal fractures result in loss of height and a dowager's hump. One in five patients with hip fractures die within the first year. But osteoporosis results not only in physical injury.

OLYMPIA J. SNOWE: It's a devastating disease for any individual, because it does rob them of their independence, but it also costs the federal government and individuals billions of dollars, and what we're seeing for the future is projected costs of $60 billion by the year 2020, $240 billion by the year 2040. Those costs cannot be afforded by this government, and certainly cannot be ignored.

FEMALE SPEAKER: Yes, I'm concerned about osteoporosis because my sister has a problem with it, and I believe my mother has a quite severe problem with it, and it's something I feel I should have a bone density test for, for my own peace of mind.

RICHARD BOCKMAN, MD, PhD: Often, a patient who is told that they're osteoporotic or who has unfortunately suffered an osteoporotic fracture becomes extremely fearful about everyday life. They're afraid of refracturing or they're afraid of their first fracture, and they start to live as though they were inside a shell.

ANNOUNCER: But according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, there is much to be hopeful about.

SANDRA C. RAYMOND: We've entered a new era in the prevention, detection and treatment of osteoporosis. We now have new treatments, new therapies if an individual already has low bone mass. We have wonderful, very, very accurate technology to detect whether we have a loss of bone mass. There are many new treatments on the horizon. The future for this disease is extremely bright.

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