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People with diabetes at higher risk of bone fractures

Bone health among those with diabetes could be under threat as new research shows the condition increases the risk of fractures.

A study, carried out by the University of Sheffield, found that people who have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes are at a greater risk of suffering from a hip fracture, or a similar injury.

The risk is larger among those with type 1 diabetes than people with type 2 diabetes, although this largely depends on how long the person has had the condition, researchers said.

Lead researcher Dr Tatiane Vilaca, from the University of Sheffield’s Mellanby Centre for Bone Research, said: “Diabetes can cause a number of well-known complications including kidney problems, loss of eyesight, problems with your feet and nerve damage. However, until now many people with diabetes and their doctors are unaware that they are also at greater risk of bone fractures.

“We need to raise awareness about the greater risk people with diabetes face to help them to prevent fractures. For example, preventing falls can reduce their risk of fracture.

“Fractures can be very serious, especially in older people. Hip fractures are the most severe as they cause such high disability. Around 76,000 people in the UK suffer a hip fracture every year and it is thought as many as 20 per cent of people will die within a year of the fracture. Many others don’t fully regain mobility, and for many people it can cause a loss of independence.”

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Professor Richard Eastell, Professor of Bone Metabolism and Director of the University of Sheffield’s Mellanby Centre for Bone Research, said the findings “highlights the urgent need” for healthcare professionals to focus more on bone health among those with diabetes.

He added: “We hope that by raising awareness about the greater risk people with diabetes face, bone density and bone strength will become something that doctors assess routinely in patients with the condition in the same way they do currently for other well-known complications.”

The research was a collaboration with the University of California and has been published in the Bone journal.

Dr Steven Cummings, from Sutter Health, California, said: “Patients with diabetes and the doctors who care for them should be aware of the increased risk of fractures. Patients are encouraged to ask their doctors what to do about that risk, and doctors should assess the risk and consider treatment to reduce that risk.”

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