Osteoporosis is a bone disease that leaves bones more porous and fragile, leaving them at greater risk for fractures. There is often a misconception that African American women are not at risk because they have a higher bone density than white women. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the truth is that black women are actually more likely to die following a hip fracture than white women. Why?
The risks for black women
While it's a fact that small-boned women, particularly white and Asian, are at greater risk for developing osteoporosis, there are other factors that place black women at greater risk, too. These include:
- About 75 percent of all African Americans are lactose intolerant and most African American women only get about 50 percent of the daily required calcium necessary to build strong bones.
- The risk of hip fracture doubles every 7 years among African American women as they age.
- Osteoporosis in African American women often goes under recognized and under treated.
The problem with osteoporosis is that is has no symptoms until a fracture occurs. Detecting osteoporosis risk early is critical. Although there is no cure, medicines, along with a calcium and vitamin D-rich diet, can help treat the disease and prevent the disease from rapidly progressing.
About 20 percent of people who have a hip fracture die within a year of their injury. According to the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, blacks have an increased length of rehabilitation and lower levels of functional independence following a hip fracture which affects recovery and outcomes from fractures.