Women leaders call for global action on osteoporosis

Nine prominent women from around the world today called for action by government policy makers, health professionals and individuals to fight the silent epidemic of osteoporosis.

"We are here because osteoporosis is a major global problem and it is time to get people to stand up and speak out on this serious disease," said Justine Pasek, one of the speakers at the event, whose statement reflected the tone of the gathering. See IOF website for complete texts from all the speakers: http://www.osteofound.org/wco/2006/media_centre.php.

The women, who come from the fields of public service, journalism, medicine, fashion and the arts, politics, philanthropy, and sports, were speaking at the 2nd IOF Women Leaders Roundtable, held in conjunction with the IOF World Congress on Osteoporosis in Toronto.

The participants included:
Moderator: Dr Marla Shapiro, Canada, associate professor University of Toronto, Family and Community Health, family physician, TV and print journalist
Australia: Maxine McKew, journalist, TV host, patron of Osteoporosis Australia
Canada : Maureen McTeer, medical law specialist, human rights advocate, author, patron of Osteoporosis Canada
China: Alice Chiu, prominent philanthropist, founder and director, Sheen Hok Charitable Foundation, Hong Kong
Italy: Lella Costa, theatre actress, osteoporosis advocate
Panama: Justine Pasek, Miss Universe 2002, patron of Fundacion de Osteoporosis y Enfermedades Metabolicas Oseas (Panama Osteoporosis Foundation)
United Kingdom: Baroness Julia Cumberlege, member House of Lords, former UK health minister, prominent osteoporosis advocate
USA: Peggy Fleming, Olympic Gold Medalist and former world champion in figure skating, TV sports analyst, osteoporosis advocate
USA: Dr Ethel Siris, president of National Osteoporosis Foundation (USA), IOF Board member

In their Call to Action, signed by all the participants, the women specifically urged:

Women and men worldwide to:

  • Engage in a "bone-friendly" lifestyle, including appropriate exercise programs, nutrition and attention to risk factors
  • Insist that their health care professionals provide the best care possible

Health care professionals to:

  • Improve their knowledge about how their field of specialty relates to osteoporosis
  • Spend the time to advise patients about osteoporosis prevention and treatment Government health officials to:
  • Recognize osteoporosis as a health priority
  • Pay for bone density scans and improve the availability of bone densitometry machines for people with osteoporosis risk factors before the first fracture.
  • Pay for proven therapies for people with osteoporosis before the first fracture.

The 2nd IOF Women Leaders Roundtable was convened, in part, because while women around the world may be aware of osteoporosis, they seriously underestimate its prevalence and therefore they may not consider themselves to personally be at risk.

These trends were confirmed in a recent on-line survey conducted for IOF that questioned IPG (Inter Public Group) employees, family members and friends worldwide. The interim results show that some 70% of female participants in the survey had heard "a lot" or "some" about osteoporosis, and 97% knew that osteoporosis relates to "brittle bones". Yet only 25% of respondents recognized that osteoporosis affects one woman in three, with only 52% of respondents realizing that osteoporosis is more common than breast cancer.

These findings correspond to an earlier study, "How Fragile is Her Future", which showed a huge deniability of personal risk most women surveyed had heard about osteoporosis but a staggering 85% did not feel that they would be affected.

Osteoporosis is one of the world's most prevalent and debilitating chronic diseases, affecting one out of three women over 50 worldwide, more than breast cancer.

The 1st IOF Women Leaders Roundtable was held in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2002.


Osteoporosis, in which the bones become porous and break easily, is one of the world's most common and debilitating diseases. The result: pain, loss of movement, inability to perform daily chores, and in many cases, death. One out of three women over 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures, as will one out of five men 1, 2, 3. Unfortunately, screening for people at risk is far from being a standard practice. Osteoporosis can, to a certain extent, be prevented, it can be easily diagnosed and effective treatments are available.

The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) is the only worldwide organization dedicated to the fight against osteoporosis. It brings together scientists, physicians, patient societies and corporate partners. Working with its 172 member societies in 85 locations, and other healthcare-related organizations around the world, IOF encourages awareness and prevention, early detection and improved treatment of osteoporosis.

1 Melton U, Chrischilles EA, Cooper C et al. How many women have osteoporosis? Journal of Bone Mineral Research, 1992; 7:1005-10
2 Kanis JA et al. Long-term risk of osteoporotic fracture in Malmo. Osteoporosis International, 2000; 11:669-674
3 Melton LJ, et al. Bone density and fracture risk in men. JBMR. 1998; 13:No 12:1915

IOF World Congress on Osteoporosis, held every two years, is the only global congress dedicated specifically to all aspects of osteoporosis. Besides the opportunity to learn about the latest science and developments in diagnosis, treatment and the most recent socio-economic studies, participants have the chance to meet and exchange ideas with other physicians from around the world. All aspects of osteoporosis will be covered during the Congress which will comprise lectures by invited speakers presenting cutting edge research in the field, and a large number of oral presentations and poster sessions selected from 720 submitted abstracts. More than 70 Meet the Expert Sessions covering many practical aspects of diagnosis and management of osteoporosis are also on the program.

For more information on osteoporosis and IOF please visit: www.osteofound.org

For further information, please contact:
Paul Spencer Sochaczewski, Head of Communications,
International Osteoporosis Foundation:
E-mail: [email protected]
Andrew Leopold, Weber Shandwick Worldwide
400-207 Queen's Quay West, Toronto, Tel: +1 416 964 6444 Cell +1 416 723 2424
E-mail: [email protected]

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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