European Calcified Tissue Society (ECTS) logo - click for high-res version

Post-menopausal women under-estimate own risk of disease-related bone fractures, study finds


May 22, 2013, Lisbon, Portugal. Press Dispensary. Recent findings from the Global Longitudinal Study of Osteoporosis in Women (GLOW) show that post-menopausal women who suffer from such neurological conditions as Parkinson’s diseases, multiple sclerosis, or who have had a stroke, as well as those with rheumatoid arthritis, tend to under-estimate their own personal risk of bone fractures, believing it to be no higher than other women of the same age whereas, in fact, their risk of fracture is at least doubled. This, says the study, shows a need for improved health education and guidelines.

The findings were presented at the 50th anniversary congress of the European Calcified Tissue Society (ECTS), being held in Lisbon, Portugal, on May 18-21, 2013.

Dr Celia Gregson, whilst at the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at the University of Southampton, worked with the GLOW research team and compared these women's own perception of their fracture risk with their actual rate of incident fracture over 3 years. They found that almost half (43%) of the women with a range of neurological diseases saw their own fracture risk as similar to other women of the same age, while just under a third (28%) saw their own risk as lower. Of the 43,832 women studied, 6.7% subsequently sustained a new fracture. However, it was women with neurological conditions who experienced the highest fracture rates, with Parkinson's disease carrying the highest risk (at almost four times that of women without any diseases), followed by multiple sclerosis.

while their risk of fracture was well above the norm, they tended not to see this risk, with most of them believing they were at no more risk than any other woman of the same age
Dr Celia Gregson

Presenting the findings at the ECTS congress in Lisbon, Dr Gregson said: "We compared self-perceived fracture risk and 3-year incident fracture rates in postmenopausal women with a range of conditions and found that while their risk of fracture was well above the norm, they tended not to see this risk, with most of them believing they were at no more risk than any other woman of the same age. Only 29% of women who actually suffered a bone fracture had considered their risk of fracture to be increased”.

"This suggests there is a need to improve health education for these women. The more they can understand of their conditions and the consequent risks they face, the more empowered and motivated they may be to lead healthier lifestyles."

- ends -

Notes for editors
The European Calcified Tissue Society (ECTS) is the major organisation in Europe for researchers and clinicians working in the field of calcified tissues and related fields and in 2013 is celebrating its 50th anniversary. ECTS acts as a forum for the dissemination of high quality research through its annual meeting, the European Symposium on Calcified Tissues, and through training courses and workshops.

Calcified tissues are central to a healthy skeleton and to bone disorders - such as osteoporosis, back pain and fractures - that make life a misery for countless people. Children can inherit some forms of bone diseases causing bone pain, shortness and deformed limbs.

The 50th anniversary meeting of the European Calcified Tissue Society takes place in Lisbon, Portugal, on May 18-21, 2013. Some 3,500 delegates are expected to attend.

About GLOW

GLOW (Global Longitudinal study of Osteoporosis in Women) is an international cohort study involving 723 physician practices across 10 countries in Europe, North America and Australasia. 60393 women aged ≥55 years completed baseline questionnaires detailing medical history, including co-morbidities, fractures and self-perceived fracture risk. Annual follow-up determined self-reported incident fractures.

About the study

In total, 2945/43832 (6.7%) sustained an incident fracture over 3 years. All co-morbidities were strongly associated with increased fracture rates, particularly Parkinson’s disease (PD) (hazard ratio [HR] 95% CI; 3.89 [2.78, 5.44]), multiple sclerosis (MS) 2.70 [1.90, 3.83], cerebrovascular events 2.02 [1.67, 2.46], and rheumatoid arthritis 2.15 [1.53, 3.04], all p<0.001). Most individuals perceived their own fracture risk to be similar to (46%) or lower than (36%) women of the same age.

Increased self-perceived fracture risk was strongly associated with incident fracture rates. However, only 29% of women who experienced a fracture had perceived their risk as increased. Under-appreciation of fracture risk occurred for all co-morbidities, including among women with neurological disease, in whom women with self-perceived low fracture risk had a fracture HR of 2.39 [1.74, 3.29] compared with women without co-morbidities.

For further information please contact
Roberta Mugnai, ECTS executive director
European Calcified Tissue Society (ECTS)
Tel: + 32 476 520 716

Media contacts

Roberta Mugnai, ECTS executive director
Tel: + 32 476 520 716

Parkinson's disease multiple sclerosis stroke rheumatoid arthritis post-menopausal ECTS congress Lisbon congress calcified tissue European Calcified Tissue Society bone fracture risk fracture risk


Images for download
Click on any image to view or download in higher resolution.