Indians show the highest prevalence of osteoporosis. One in two Indian
women above the age of 45 suffer from osteoporosis. “Earlier, osteoporosis was seen as merer another symptom of aging, like wrinkles.” says Pierre Delmas, President of the Inter national osteoporosis Foundation(IOF). But the statistics tell a different story.
IOF studies show that one out of four hip fractures in the world occurs in Asia and Latin America. This number will increase to one in two by 2030.
Osteoporosis has emerged as the principal cause of concern for post-meno-pausal Indian women.While a large number of women over to suffer from osteoporosis or brittle bones. many others suffer from osteopenia or weak bones.
India and China are specially at risk. Europe saw a similar rise in cases, but has now plateaued. The reason for the rise in Asian cases has not yet been ascertained due to lack of data.
There are two possibilities: One, the rise in the aging population thanks to increasing life expectancies,which means a corresponding rise in diseases related to aging. Second, changing lifestyles.
A woman today leads a more sedentary lifestyle than her grandmother did at her age due to modern conveniences available. The number crunching gets worse.
The growing spectre of the disease is hand to ignore. According to the World Health Organisation,osteoporosis is second only to cardiovascular disease as a global healthcare problem and medical studies show a 50-year-old woman has a similar lifetime risk of dying from hip fracture as from breast cancer.
Says a orthopedist, “Indians genetically have weaker bones. Postmenopausal changes in the levels of estrogen make women, particularly those over 40, more vulnerable as this hormone plays a pivotal role in bone formation. Deﬁciency of calcium in the bones leads to osteoporosis.”
With AIDS taking most of the spotlight and the research funds, should governments be taking up osteoporosis on the same war footing?
Delmas says. “It’s more of a political issue. AIDS is seen as a bigger threat because it affects a large percentage of the young working population. But if you are looking at the issue in
the long term. you must take into consideration that osteoporosis will affect the elderly population which is growing.”
This will put a bigger burden to the health care system as treatment is expensive and unless we act quickly, it can escalate into an economic threat.