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Examining women’s bones during menopause may cut fracture risk

New York: Bone fragility, a serious condition affecting women as they age, should be identified as early as 30 years before they start fracturing, or during the phase of menopause, a study has suggested.

Current identification for bone fragility takes place when the patient is around 65 years of age and has lost appreciable bone mass and strength.

“Bone fragility has been considered a silent disease,” says Karl Jepsen, Professor at the University of Michigan in the US.

“This study would give us an opportunity to identify those patients as early as 30 years before they fracture based on their bone traits. That means, we would have an opportunity to intervene before the fracture happens, instead of after the fact,” Jepsen added.

The finding showed that some women appeared to have hip bones that were increasing in strength during the menopausal transition while others seemed to be losing strength.

“This study demonstrated for the first time that we can track bone changes happening individually in women during menopause,” Jepsen said.

Over that time-frame, women experienced different changes in bone mineral content and bone area within the hip, but similar changes in areal bone mineral density.

In addition, women with narrow femoral necks showed smaller changes in bone mineral content, but greater increases in bone area compared to women with wide femoral necks who showed greater losses in bone mineral content, but did not appear to be experiencing compensatory increases in bone area.

“Bone is constantly remaking itself, but with age and menopause, considerable declines in bone strength can occur,” Jepsen noted, adding the study helped us demonstrate how much that process can vary greatly among women.

For the study, published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, the team examined the bone traits of 198 midlife women transitioning through menopause.

The researchers analysed dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry images, which measure bone mineral density, of the hip over 14-year period to determine if changes were happening in each woman.

IANS