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An estimate of the worldwide prevalence and disability associated with osteoporotic fractures

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The aim of this study was to quantify the global burden of osteoporotic fracture worldwide.


The incidence of hip fractures was identified by systematic review and the incidence of osteoporotic fractures was imputed from the incidence of hip fractures in different regions of the world. Excess mortality and disability weights used age- and sex-specific data from Sweden to calculate the Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) lost due to osteoporotic fracture.


In the year 2000 there were an estimated 9.0 million osteoporotic fractures of which 1.6 million were at the hip, 1.7 million at the forearm and 1.4 million were clinical vertebral fractures. The greatest number of osteoporotic fractures occurred in Europe (34.8%). The total DALYs lost was 5.8 million of which 51% were accounted for by fractures that occurred in Europe and the Americas. World-wide, osteoporotic fractures accounted for 0.83% of the global burden of non-communicable disease and was 1.75% of the global burden in Europe. In Europe, osteoporotic fractures accounted for more DALYs lost than common cancers with the exception of lung cancer. For chronic musculo-skeletal disorders the DALYs lost in Europe due to osteoporosis (2.0 million) were less than for osteoarthrosis (3.1 million) but greater than for rheumatoid arthritis (1.0 million).


We conclude that osteoporotic fractures are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality, particularly in the developed countries.

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We are grateful to Colin Mathers, World Health Organization, Geneva, who helped us with the DISMOD 2 computer programme and reviewed the manuscript. This project was supported by the International Osteoporosis Foundation.

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Correspondence to J. A. Kanis.

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Johnell, O., Kanis, J.A. An estimate of the worldwide prevalence and disability associated with osteoporotic fractures. Osteoporos Int 17, 1726–1733 (2006).

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