Is osteoporosis underrepresented in medicine?


A study from China has indicated many women are not aware of the severity of osteoporosis, and many have not been tested despite the presence of fractures.

Is osteoporosis underrepresented in medicine? | Image Credit: © eddows - © eddows -

Is osteoporosis underrepresented in medicine? | Image Credit: © eddows - © eddows -

The North American Menopause Society has published data indicating osteoporosis is underrepresented in public health.

Osteoporosis, a debilitating bone disease commonly seen in postmenopausal women, is considered 1 of the top 4 dangerous issues in health. Impacts of osteoporosis on quality of life and data linking the condition to death and financial complications have made it an increasing public concern.

Osteoporosis presents as weak and brittle bones because of a reduction in bone mineral density and bone mass. One in 3 women aged over 50 years develop fragility fractures, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation. These include severe hip fracture, leading to death in 24% of these women within 1 year. Of the survivors, 40% cannot walk independently.

An increased risk of osteoporosis has been observed in women compared to men because of hormone fluctuations during menopause that impact bone density. Rates of osteoporosis have increased because of an aging population. However, a study from China has indicated most women do not know the severity of risks or the importance of early diagnosis in treatment.

There were 240 postmenopausal women included in the study, 52.08% of which presented with osteoporosis. A slight amount of knowledge about osteoporosis was observed in 60% of participants, while 10% had not heard of the disease before.

Although 52.92% of participants had fractures, only 45% received bone mineral density testing. A lack of awareness that they had osteoporosis was the most common reason women didn’t receive testing. Of participants, 41.25% said they would receive treatment for osteoporosis if they experienced adverse events including pain.

Most participants incorrectly thought heart disease was more dangerous than osteoporosis, and 37.92% considered diabetes and hypertension to be significantly more dangerous than osteoporosis. Investigators believed these misconceptions were the source for low rates of women seeking osteoporosis testing and treatment.

“From a public health perspective, education is needed to improve awareness of the disease,” said Stephanie Faubion, MD, MBA, NAMS medical director. “Clinicians can help postmenopausal women optimize their skeletal health by assessing risk factors for fracture, reducing modifiable risk factors through dietary and lifestyle changes, and using pharmacologic therapy in women at significant risk of osteoporosis or fracture.”

Results of the study can be found in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society.


Osteoporosis too often misunderstood and ignored despite its serious health consequences. Medical Press. June 7, 2023. Accessed June 15, 2023.

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