Around the world, rates of osteoporosis-related hip fracture are in flux

04/13/2011
A broken hip is a common indicator of osteoporosis among older adults, and a new study has found that while rates of this type of injury are changing around the world, its total prevalence is on the rise.

Research appearing in the journal Osteoporosis International suggests that by the year 2050 an estimated 6.3 million hip fractures will occur across the globe each year. Currently, the annual worldwide incidence of this injury stands at 1.6 million, according to the study's authors, who hail from the UK's University of Southampton.

The team analyzed international medical literature on hip fractures and bone fragility in order to determine the rates of the injury by country or continent.



They found that many Western nations, particularly those in North America, Oceania and Europe, experienced steadily increasing rates of osteoporosis-related hip fractures until the 1980s, when the prevalence of this injury plateaued or in some cases declined slightly.



By contrast, age-related osteoporotic hip fractures appear to have become more and more common in Asia over the past few decades, the group wrote.

Researchers theorized that these fluctuations in worldwide rates may have to do with sociocultural or demographic shifts, including increases in life expectancy, changes in quality of life, reductions in physical activity and the prevalence of vitamin deficiencies.

The team noted that reductions in these fractures may not necessarily be due to an abatement of the rate of osteoporosis, since lifestyle factors often play an additional part in preventing broken hips among the elderly.

In the U.S., osteoporosis contributes to more than 2 million broken bones every year, including nearly 300,000 hip fractures, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF).

For American women, the risk of hip fracture is equivalent to that of ovarian, breast and uterine cancer combined. Women who have broken their hip once are at four times the risk of having it occur a second time, the NOF states.

All told, osteoporosis-related fractures cost the U.S. more than $19 billion annually, the organization adds.