The Facts on FRAX: Bone Density, Osteoporosis and Diabetes
By Mache Seibel, MD
First the facts on FRAX. FRAX is an acronym. It stands for Fracture Risk Assessment Tool. It uses algorithms based on a person’s clinical risk plus their bone mineral density results.
FRAX was created by the World Health Organization (WHO) using populations of people to get an idea of what bone fracture outcomes to expect and placed on the Web to help doctors predict a person’s 10-year probability of breaking their hip or a facture their hip, spine, forearm or shoulder due to osteoporosis. If you are in menopause, especially if you are not on HRT, chances are your doctor uses FRAX assess your bone fracture risk.
But a new study from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada showed that FRAX, the most widely used tool out there for interpreting bone fracture risk, isn’t accurate enough. FRAX seriously underestimates the risk of a woman getting a hip fracture.
If you have diabetes, FRAX is even a worse predictor of a broken bone. People with diabetes have a 59% increased risk of having a hip fracture. The study also found that even though people with diabetes were at increased risk for a hip fracture, they were less likely to be taking a medication to prevent one. Those under age 65 had a 5.3-fold increased risk of hip fracture and those over 65 had a 2.1-fold increased risk.
And here is the scary part. In another recent study from the Netherlands, women with diabetes had an increased risk of hip fracture even if their bone mineral density test looked normal if their blood sugar was poorly controlled.
So here are three things you need to know.
- At age 50, it’s important to get a bone density to find out if you are at risk for a broken bone due to osteoporosis (brittle bones)
- Ask your doctor if he/she uses FRAX. If so, your risk may be even higher than your test score suggests
- If you have diabetes, you have an increased risk of a hip fracture, especially if you don’t control your blood sugar
Health expert and guest speaker Dr. Mache Seibel addresses consumers critical needs from weight control to HRT, menopause and beyond. He served on the Harvard Medical School faculty 19 years and is a pioneer in many areas of women’s health. He works with companies and organizations to bring exciting educational content to consumers. Visit his award-winning website www.DoctorSeibel.com to sign up for his free monthly newsletter.
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