Finding challenges predominant theory that arthritis prevents bone loss

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Women suffering from severe arthritis may also be at high risk for osteoporosis 

For more than 30 years, it has been accepted in the medical community that women with arthritis are actually much less likely to experience accelerated bone loss. New findings, outlined in the December 2003 issue of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, show a direct relationship between the diseases, potentially altering how this high-risk population is diagnosed and treated. “Traditionally, women with arthritis were not considered candidates for osteoporosis screening and prevention, but our research indicates that this is probably an outdated notion,” said Julie Glowacki, researcher in Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery. “Our findings may prompt physicians to consider more aggressive treatment strategies that take into account both conditions,” added Thomas S. Thornhill, chairman of BWH’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery. “This is especially important given the fact that women suffering from arthritis may have been excluded from osteoporosis prevention in the past because they were actually believed to be at low risk for bone loss.”