More MS news articles for Aug 2001

Older women not the only ones at risk of osteoporosis

15:27 AEST Wed 8 Aug 2001

Older women were not the only people at risk of osteoporosis, the bone-thinning disease responsible for more than 50,000 fractures a year.

People with any condition that required the use of corticosteroid tablets or inhalers should also beware, said Professor of Rheumatology at the University of Sydney, Philip Sambrook.

Prof Sambrook is also medical director of Osteoporosis Australia, which is seeking to raise awareness of the disease as part of National Healthy Bones Week.

He said today those taking corticosteroids included asthmatics, arthritis sufferers, and those with some skin and bowel diseases and multiple sclerosis.

They could suffer a loss of bone mineral density (BMD) in as little as three months and should see their doctor to determine if they needed a bone scan.

"Probably if anyone is going onto long term steroids, they should have a bone density (scan) done ... and it's covered by Medicare," Prof Sambrook said.

"There are a number of treatments that work in stopping the bone loss after you go onto steroids but I think there is still a lot of people out there who aren't aware that the bone loss can occur quite rapidly.

"You can start to see bone loss at between three and six months."

Osteoporosis Australia chief executive Judy Stenmark said the disease effected an estimated 1.5 million people in Australia every year although many people believed it affected only post menopausal women.

"We have seen cases in people as young as 30 with no known family history of the disease," she said.

Those at risk also included men over 50 and people with a low body weight, according to guidelines for treatment issued by Osteoporosis Australia.

Smoking and lack of exercise were also contributing factors.

But the best way to prevent osteoporosis was to have a diet of at least three serves of calcium rich products a day and have regular exercise like walking, running or weight training.

©AAP 2001