Healthcare organization recommends more, earlier tests for osteoporosis

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (PSTF) has taken a step toward improving national osteoporosis prevention. It has recently updated its testing guidelines, which now recommend that women who are at risk for developing osteoporosis should start getting regular bone health screenings earlier, according to Reuters.

Previously, the task force set 60 as the age at which women with an increased likelihood of bone degeneration should begin getting screened.

Now, it has rolled the recommended age back to 50, the news service reported.

As a section of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the PSTF has been researching the efficacy of bone health exams since 2002, when it last released recommendations on the age at which women should begin getting tested for osteoporosis.

Women are more likely than men to develop osteoporosis, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF). Approximately half of all women will experience a fracture caused by the disease.

Mature women are at particularly high risk of losing bone density. The NOF adds that menopause, low weight and a family history of the disorder may all increase an individual's likelihood of developing osteoporosis.

Likewise, those who do not consume the minimum recommended daily doses of calcium and vitamin D, or who eat few fruits and vegetables and live a sedentary lifestyle, are much more likely to suffer from brittle bones as they age.

The PSTF has said that women under 50 who fit these risk factors should seriously consider being tested for osteoporosis immediately, before the possibility of bone fractures increases.

The news source said that physicians can measure bone strength using either a traditional ultrasound test or a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry exam, though it added that the latter produces more accurate results.

Treatments for the condition can include vitamin supplementation or the prescription use of bisphosphonates, which are drugs used to prevent bone loss.

By 2025, osteoporosis will cause 3 million fractures each year and cost the U.S. $25.3 billion annually, the NOF reports.
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