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California Women Age 40-64 Speak Out About Concerns Regarding Aging and Bone Loss; Confused Regarding Screening, Treatment and Prevention of Osteoporosis.

SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(BW HealthWire)--July 14, 1998--Seven out of ten (72%) women are concerned about osteoporosis in their own lives, and just one in ten (10%) has had a bone density test to screen for the disease in the past two years according to a recently completed survey of California women age 40-64.

Further, only half of those surveyed (55%) is even aware such a screening test is available.

According to Karen Bodenhorn, President and CEO of the California Center for Health Improvement, "California women are very concerned about osteoporosis -- as they should be. Every American woman has a one-in-two chance of suffering an osteoporosis-related fracture during her lifetime. By age 75 this increases to nine out of ten women, and although researchers and health professionals know that osteoporosis can be prevented and women want to take action to prevent the disease, few preventive steps are actually taken."

These findings come from a new statewide survey completed by The FieldInstitute and the California Center for Health Improvement (CCHI) for the Foundation for Osteoporosis Research and Education (FORE). The survey was conducted by telephone among a random sample of 657 women age 40-64 living in California. The survey was conducted in both English and Spanish, April 14 - May 12, 1998.

Women Very Concerned About Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is the loss of bone density which creates brittle and porous bones. Older women are more susceptible to bone loss because of lower levels of estrogen associated with menopause. When asked about their top two menopause-related concerns, 68% of women surveyed identified osteoporosis and 77% cited heart disease. High school graduates and those who have attended college are more likely than those with less education to rate osteoporosis among their top menopause-related health concerns.

Women are Confused About When They Are Susceptible to Osteoporosis

Although women are very concerned about osteoporosis, they are confused as to when they are susceptible to developing this disease. Among pre-menopausal women about one in three (34%) correctly believe this is between ages 50 and 59, while among post-menopausal women only about one in four (26%) understand this fact.

Bodenhorn continued, "Prevention and early detection of osteoporosis can save women from pain, isolation, loss of independence and premature death. Understanding that estrogen loss, not calcium loss, is the primary cause of 20-25 percent of bone loss that occurs in the first five years following menopause will assist women in selecting the appropriate strategies for preventing the disease. A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D combined with regular weight-bearing physical activity and weight resistance training are good defenses against osteoporosis. In addition, some women may want to discuss use of hormone replacement therapy or other medications with their physician."

Women Uninformed About Treatment & Prevention

Despite their concern about osteoporosis, large proportions of women have not discussed related prevention and treatment strategies with their doctors. Pre-menopausal women say they have not discussed hormone replacement therapy (63%), nutrition (58%), calcium supplements (58%) or exercise (44%) with their doctors. Among post-menopausal women, 48% have not discussed nutrition, 45% have failed to discuss calcium supplements, 28% have not discussed exercise and 25% did not discuss hormone replacement therapy with their women's healthcare provider.

Unaware Screening Test is Available to Detect Osteoporosis

Nearly one in two women (45%) is unaware a bone density screening test is available to help diagnose women's risk for this disease. Sixty-four percent of California women with annual household incomes of less than $20,000 and majorities of those with no more than a high school education or who have no women's health care provider are unaware of the osteoporosis test. On the other hand, awareness of a test for osteoporosis is greater in women who see an obstetrician/gynecologist for their primary women's health care needs.

Bodenhorn continued, "Osteoporosis is not an inevitable part of aging. Yet today experts estimate that the national cost of treating osteoporosis and related fractures is $14 billion -- in California it is $2 billion annually. Over the next 20 years as the population ages, costs are estimated to reach $24 billion in California. Common sense holds that women should maximize their calcium intake when they are young and, as they approach menopause, begin discussing preventive treatments with their doctors. Data from this survey will assist women, healthcare providers, researchers and policy-makers to develop programs and policies which provide women with the prevention, screening and treatment regimes they need to stay well."

Note to Editors: Accompanying documents providing details about the survey, the exact wording of each question and display graphics of the findings are available upon request.

 CONTACT: California Center for Health Improvement
 Karen Bodenhorn, 916/646-2149
 Dr. E. Deborah Jay/Mark DiCamillo, 415/781-4921

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Publication:Business Wire
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Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 14, 1998
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