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Diabetes Linked To Increased Risk Of Bone Fracture In Older Women


BETHESDA, MD -- January 17, 2001 -- A study published in the January issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, shows that older women with diabetes are 80-90 percent more likely than women without diabetes to have a hip or shoulder fracture.

In addition, researchers found that women receiving insulin are more than twice as likely to suffer foot fractures. Previously, diabetes was not considered a risk factor for fracture among older women.

In the largest study of fracture risks in diabetic women reported to date, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco analyzed data from the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures (SOF), in which over 9,000 women, age 65 and older, reported their fractures for an average follow-up of nine years. During that time, 2,624 women experienced at least one nonvertebral fracture during an average period of 9.4 years. In addition, 388 women had at least one vertebral fracture during 3.7 years.

"The results from this study clearly demonstrate the need for a more aggressive focus on identifying and addressing risk factors for fracture in women with diabetes," said Dr. Schwartz, an endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco. "Fracture prevention efforts must be included in the treatment of diabetes."

In the JCEM study, researchers found that the elevated fracture risk was not explained by low bone mineral density (BMD). In fact, the study found that the women with diabetes had a higher BMD.

"Our study suggests that the quality of bone mass in diabetic subjects might exhibit subtle abnormalities that can lead to an increased risk of fracture," said Dr. Schwartz. "Now research is needed into the efficacy of current treatments to improve bone strength among women with diabetes."

Additionally, Dr. Schwartz and her colleagues report that other risk factors that are associated with diabetes and fracture, such as tendency to fall, poor vision, decreased exercise, poor balance and
reduced sensation in the feet, account for only a small portion of the association between diabetes and fracture risk that was found in the study.

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