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Osteoporosis and Hispanic Women

From the National Institutes of Health's Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center

It is a common misconception that osteoporosis only affects white women. But, according to the Surgeon General's Report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis, in the United States, the prevalence of osteoporosis in Hispanic women is similar to that in white women. Fortunately, osteoporosis is preventable and treatable. As a Hispanic woman, it is important that you understand your risk for osteoporosis, the steps you can take to protect your bones, and, if you have the disease, the options for treating it.

What Is Osteoporosis?

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.

What Are The Risk Factors For Osteoporosis?

Risk factors for developing osteoporosis include:

  • A thin, small-boned frame
  • Previous fracture or family history of osteoporotic fracture
  • Estrogen deficiency resulting from early menopause (before age 45), either naturally, from surgical removal of the ovaries, or as a result of prolonged amenorrhea (abnormal absence of menstruation) in younger women
  • Advanced age
  • Low-calcium diet
  • Caucasian and Asian ancestry (African American and Hispanic women are at lower but significant risk)
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Excessive use of alcohol
  • Prolonged use of certain medications, such as those used to treat diseases like lupus, asthma, thyroid deficiencies, and seizures.
Are There Any Special Issues for Hispanic Women Regarding Bone Health?

Several studies indicate a number of facts that highlight the risk Hispanic women face with regard to developing osteoporosis:
  • An estimated 10 percent of Hispanic women age 50 and older have osteoporosis, and 49 percent are estimated to have bone mass that is low but not low enough for them to be diagnosed with osteoporosis.
  • The incidence of hip fractures among some Hispanic women appears to be on the rise.
  • Studies have shown that Hispanic women consume less calcium than the Recommended Dietary Allowance in all age groups.
  • Hispanic women are twice as likely to develop diabetes as white women, which may increase their risk for osteoporosis.

For more information about minority health go to the U.S. Office of Minority Health.

Last updated January 5, 2012