News Release

World's largest osteoporosis congress closes; significant studies released

Peer-Reviewed Publication

International Osteoporosis Foundation

The largest world medical congress devoted specifically to osteoporosis ended in Toronto today, following five days in which nearly 4,000 participants from 98 countries learned of the latest research in this crippling bone disease and clinical strategies to treat patients more effectively.

The IOF World Congress on Osteoporosis, held every two years, was organized by the International Osteoporosis Foundation.

"This congress is becoming one of the major scientific meetings in the field of osteoporosis. The interdisciplinary and international flavour of the IOF WCO has never been more apparent than in Toronto," said congress delegate and IOF Board member Prof. John Bilezikian, USA.

Some highlights:

  • Research on why astronauts lose significant muscle and bone mass while in space can lead to more effective techniques to reduce bone loss in bedridden patients. "We should think about the potential benefits of using space technology to prevent osteoporosis in our aging population," noted Dr. Dave Williams, Canadian astronaut, who spoke at the congress.

  • Nine women leaders from around the world called on individuals, physicians and government officials to stop the spread of osteoporosis. Justine Pasek, Miss Universe 2002 from Panama, one of the speakers at the event, said "it is time to get people to stand up and speak out on this serious disease."

  • A new, sophisticated X-ray scanner that can measure tiny, three-dimensional changes in bone architecture, was presented. This scanner can detect bone loss that may be missed by standard techniques.

  • Rapid weight loss can be a risk factor for osteoporosis. Obesity is also a risk factor.

  • Female nursing home residents have fewer skeletal fractures than women who live at home.

  • Maternal vitamin D levels during pregnancy and infant bone growth influence future fracture risk. "Now we have evidence that the bone mass you have at the age of 80 reflects what you started with very early in life," observed Dr Kassim Javaid, of the MRC Epidemiology Resource Center, Southampton, UK.

  • The rate of osteoporosis in men is climbing, with estrogen level an important component.

  • Calcium supplements are only effective in the presence of additional vitamin D at doses of 800 international units or above.

  • There is a major gap in treating patients with osteoporosis, despite the availability of a wide range of drugs, supplements and practices that help maintain and even build bone strength. This problem is due to under-diagnosis, and failure of governments to reimburse people at risk. And when patients are prescribed treatment, they often do not comply with prescribed treatment.

  • The rate of osteoporosis in Latin America is growing and higher than previously estimated.

  • Research confirms the importance of calcium, vitamin D and protein in building bones.

  • Exercise in childhood and adolescence may stave off osteoporosis. "Physical activity is important for optimal bone accrual during childhood, consequently leading to higher peak bone mass," said Miryoung Lee, of the Wright State University School of Medicine, Ohio, USA.

  • Cigarette smoke, both primary and secondary, can weaken your bones and increase the risk of fractures. "Young smokers have significant losses in bone density," said Mattias Lorentzon at the Center for Bone Research at Gothenburg University, Sweden.

  • Numerous awards were presented:
  • Journalists from Malaysia and UK won top osteoporosis journalism awards.
  • Seven young investigators from seven countries received IOF-Novartis Young Scholars' Awards
  • A Boston-based researcher won the IOF-Servier Young Investigator Award.

  • A new video highlighting the international work of IOF and its members in 85 countries was released, along with a new video message of support by Queen Rania of Jordan, IOF patron.


    Full information on these stories, and others based on the hundreds of presentations which took place, is available on the IOF website:

    The next IOF World Congress on Osteoporosis will take place in Bangkok, Thailand, in December 2008.

    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 35 oral presentations and more than 680 poster presentations 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:

    For further information, please contact:
    Paul Spencer Sochaczewski, Head of Communications,
    International Osteoporosis Foundation:
    Tel. +41 22 994 0100 - Fax. +41 22 994 0101 - E-mail:
    Andrew Leopold, Weber Shandwick Worldwide
    400-207 Queen's Quay West, Toronto, Tel: +1 416 964 6444

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