, Volume 83, Issue 6, pp 365-367
Date: 14 Nov 2008

Redefining Osteoporosis

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The current widely used definition of osteoporosis is that it is “a systemic skeletal disease characterised by low bone mass and microarchitectural deterioration of bone tissue with a consequent increase in bone fragility and susceptibility to fracture.” This definition, attributed to a consensus statement in 1993 [1], was confirmed by a World Health Organization (WHO) study group in 1994 [2] and used by the vice chair of that study group in his book published in the same year [3]. Despite this powerful advocacy, it does not in fact meet the requirement of a definition, which needs to be absolutely specific. The definition of anemia is a reduced level of hemoglobin in the blood; it does not include a description of the causes or consequences. The definition of hypertension is a raised blood pressure; it does not mention stroke or heart attacks. The definition of osteoporosis should be equally tight; the causes and consequences are irrelevant. The term “osteoporosis” should identify the ...