Let’s face it: the number one fear of most people with osteoporosis is fracturing a hip, and for good reason. Hip fractures are physically and financially debilitating, and may even shorten your lifespan. But new research gives us reason to be hopeful: the U.S. hip fracture rate is falling.
This may come as a surprise considering the inflammatory headlines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services only weeks ago, declaring dramatic increases in osteoporosis-linked fractures. That data would strike fear into the heart of any woman with a less-than-average T-score! But while it’s true that a larger number of fractures are being diagnosed today than years ago, the rate of fractures — adjusted to the population — is actually shrinking.
Specifically, the reports are as follows:
• Between 1993 and 2003 hospitalizations for hip fracture decreased by 5% and the age-adjusted rates of hip fracture for women and men fell by about 20%. This is data from the US Nationwide Impatient Sample. (Gehlbach et al. 2007)
• From 1985 through 2005 the Canadian hip fracture rate, adjusted by age, fell by 32% in women and 25% in men. (Leslie et al. 2009)
From my perspective, the most important take-away from this data is that this trend of decreasing hip fractures was well under way long before the new osteoporosis drugs became popular, and scientists agree that this decline in fracture incidence is not due to use of osteoporosis medications.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that the decline is in spite of the use of these medications, which have questionable benefits with long-term use and which may even increase the risk of non-traumatic fractures in some women who take them for more than 5 years.
So what can you do to help this encouraging trend to continue? Nourish your bones! Many of the factors that cause hip fractures are within your control, and no one has the power to change them but you. To learn more about opportunities to improve your bone health, take our Bone Health Profile.
Gehlbach, SH, et al. 2007. Trends in hospital care for hip fracture. Osteoporosis International, 18(5):585-591.
Leslie, WD, et al. 2009. Trends in hip fracture rates in Canada. JAMA, 302(8):883-889.