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Monday, 4 June, 2001, 23:41 GMT 00:41 UK
Osteoporosis 'runs in families'
Bone strength test
Osteoporosis causes weak and brittle bones
Brothers and sisters of people with the crippling bone disease osteoporosis are much more likely to suffer from the disease themselves.

Research has shown that siblings of osteoporosis suffers are six times more likely to have a low bone density than the general population.

Low bone density causes osteoporosis by making the bones brittle and weak.


The findings emphasise the need for screening and early preventative measures for both men and women

Dr Emma Duncan
One in three women and one in 12 men in the UK suffer from osteoporosis.

Treating osteoporosis costs the NHS 900m a year and rates of the disease are expected to increase in future years.

The research, by scientists at the John Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford and the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, has shown that male as well as female siblings of osteoporosis sufferers are at high risk of the disease.

Genes

It has also identified eight specific genes which may be responsible for the disease.

Tests were carried out on DNA samples from several generations of more than 170 families in Oxfordshire.

Lead researcher Dr Emma Duncan said: "This is the first time the sibling connection has been calculated and has important implications for the screening of relatives.

"The findings emphasise the need for screening and early preventative measures for both men and women, for example ensuring adequate calcium intake and weight-bearing exercise."

A spokesman for the National Osteoporosis Society told BBC News Online that the findings were in line with work being undertaken by the Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology unit at St Thomas' Hospital, London.

The research was funded by the charity Action Research.

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24 Aug 99 | Medical notes
Osteoporosis
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