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Checking Your Bones

People with higher-than-usual risks of osteoporosis, who include coeliacs and disbetics, may want to check their bone status. A UK study suggests that ultrasound measurement of the heel is a valid alternative to the x-ray method. (DEXA) of measuring bone density. After heel ultrasound in about 6,000 men and 8,000 women aged from 42-82 a team found that the test accurately predicated risk of fracture. Over the following two years the group had 121 fractures, roughly two thirds of them among women.

The 10% of people at the low end of heel bone density had four times as much chance of a fracture as those in the top 30%. Ultrasound costs less than x-ray and has no radiation exposure: key advantages especially to those who may want to check their bone density more often.

Khaw et al. Lancet 2004 Jan 17; 363; 197-202


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