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Osteopenia

Osteopenia is defined as the stage of low bone density that precedes osteoporosis. At this stage, bone density is below average but not as low as occurs with osteoporosis. The World Health Organization formed a committee in 1994 to define osteoporosis, and four categories were defined: normal, osteopenia, osteoporosis, and established osteoporosis. All of these categories are measured by bone density and the prevalence of fractures. In osteopenia, bone density falls between one standard deviation and 2.5 standard deviations below average. Risk factors include age, race, and ethnicity, and the use of hormones. Although treatment for osteopenia is largely affected by age and the presence of fractures, women between the ages of fifty and seventy can prevent it by taking estrogen with calcium and exercising regularly.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately 10 million women and 2 million men in the United States have osteoporosis. Men have bones that are much larger and stronger than women's bones, which is why women suffer from the condition more often than men. However, both men and women share similar risk factors for osteoporosis (e.g., prolonged exposure to certain medications, chronic diseases that affect vital organs, undiagnosed low levels of testosterone, lifestyle habits, age, heredity, race), so methods of intervention are similar.

Daphne C. Watkins

Internet Resources

Simmons, Sandra. "Common Myths about Osteopenia." Available from <http://www.ctds.info/osteopenia-2.html>

National Osteoporosis Foundation. "Osteoporosis: What Is It?" Available from <http://www.nof.org>


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