Medicine: When Bones Are Brittle

Osteoporosis may take root in young women

The crippling symptoms of osteoporosis have become almost synonymous with old age. The dowager's hump, the loss of height, the painful and often debilitating fractures of the spine and hip nearly always occur in elderly women after menopause (as well as in a smaller number of older men). And that age group has been the focus of prevention and treatment efforts.

Now a controversial report suggests the disease often begins in younger women who have no outward sign of bone problems. The findings, reported last week in the New England Journal of Medicine by a team from the University of British...

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