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Reviewed June 2010
Asian American women are at high risk for developing osteoporosis (porous bones), a disease that is preventable and treatable. Studies show that Asian Americans share many of the risk factors that apply to Caucasian women. As an Asian American woman, it is important that you understand what osteoporosis is and what steps you can take to prevent or treat it.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become less dense and more likely to fracture. If not prevented or if left untreated, bone loss can progress painlessly until a bone breaks, typically in the hip, spine, or wrist. A hip fracture can limit mobility and lead to a loss of independence, and vertebral fractures can result in a loss of height, stooped posture, and chronic pain.
Several risk factors increase your chances of developing osteoporosis, including:
Recent studies indicate a number of facts that highlight the risk that Asian American women face with regard to developing osteoporosis:
Building strong bones, especially before the age of 20, can be the best defense against developing osteoporosis. A healthy lifestyle can be critically important for keeping bones strong. To help prevent osteoporosis:
Talk to your doctor if you have a family history of osteoporosis or other factors that may put you at increased risk for the disease. Your doctor may suggest that you have your bone density measured through a safe test that can determine your risk for fractures (broken bones) and measure your response to osteoporosis treatment. The most widely recognized bone mineral density test (BMD) is called a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, or DXA test. The BMD test is painless, a bit like having an x ray, but with much less exposure to radiation. It can measure bone density at your hip and spine.
Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, several medications are available for the prevention and/or treatment of osteoporosis, including: bisphosphonates; estrogen agonists/antagonists (also called selective estrogen receptor modulators or SERMS); parathyroid hormone; estrogen therapy; hormone therapy; and a recently approved RANK ligand (RANKL) inhibitor.
For more information on osteoporosis, visit the National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~ National Resource Center Web site at www.niams.nih.gov/bone or call 800–624–2663. Some fact sheets on osteoporosis are available in Spanish and Chinese
For more information on minority health, visit the Office of Minority Health Resource Center Web site at www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov or call 800–444–6472.
This fact sheet contains information about medications used to treat the health condition discussed here. When this fact sheet was printed, we included the most up-to-date (accurate) information available. Occasionally, new information on medication is released.
For updates and for any questions about any medications you are taking, please contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration at:
Toll Free: 888–INFO–FDA (888–463–6332)
For updates and questions about statistics, please contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics toll free at 800–232–4636 or visit its Web site at www.cdc.gov/nchs.