Half of older U.S. adults may face weak bones

October 19, 2004 in Nutrition for Older Adults, Nutrition Topics in the News

Half of older U.S. adults may face weak bones

Americans of all ages must do more to protect their bones now to protect themselves from fractures and other related problems later in life, U.S. health officials warned last week.

About 10 million Americans ages 50 and older already have the bone-weakening disease osteoporosis, and another 34 million risk developing it. By 2020, 14 million older adults could develop osteoporosis, with another 47 million at risk. Osteoporosis, which is four times more likely in women than in men, causes bones to become porous and brittle. It is often not diagnosed until a patient breaks a bone.

The report also called for bone density testing in women over 65 and anyone who breaks a bone after age 50.

Officials recommended a number of steps to help prevent the loss of bone mass, including consuming leafy green vegetables, dairy products and other foods or drinks rich in calcium and vitamin D. Exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are also important, officials said. Risk factors include smoking, heavy drinking, poor diet and early onset of menopause. Steroids, chemotherapy drugs and other medicines can also curb bone mass.

The 400-page report did not make specific new recommendations for patients who already have bone disease.

Hormone replacement therapy also has been used to help prevent menopause symptoms, including bone loss, but its use dropped after several studies showed increased health risks.

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