Tuesday, February 22, 2011

History of Osteoporosis

There is evidence that osteoporosis has affected people for thousands of years. Scientists have found mummies in Egypt with curved spines, mostly likely due to this disease.

Numerous studies have documented the presence of osteoporosis in ancient human remains.

However people did not know very much about what caused the condition, or how to prevent it or treat it.

In ancient times, it appears that women had lower bone mineral density and greater risk of osteoporosis than men, even though both men and women would have been physically active because of their nomadic or agrarian lifestyles.

The main bone disease of the 19th century in Europe and the USA was rickets. Osteoporosis was unknown or unidentified, although hip fractures were recognized as a complication of aging by 1849.

In England during the 1770s, a surgeon named John Hunter studied how bones grow and developed. He did using animals.

Jean Georges Lobstein, a French physician, is credited for naming osteoporosis in 1830s. The term ‘osteoporosis’ representing ‘bone atrophy’ is quoted in the Oxford English Dictionary as originating in 1871.

The modern history of osteoporosis dates from 1885 when Pommer first clearly demonstrated that rickets and osteomalacia were due to the failure of new bone to calcify rather than to removal of calcium from existing bone, whereas osteoporosis was simply a reduction in the amount of bone.

Osteoporosis is a word that’s come into common usage, but the condition is by no means a recent discovery. Meaning ‘porous bones’ in Latin, osteoporosis literally is a thinning of the bones, which makes them fragile and brittle, so that they fracture easily.

In 1930s and 1940s, Fuller Albright from Massachusetts General Hospital realized that women who had gone though menopause were likely to develop frail bones.

Fuller Albright proposed that estrogen deficiency was causative factor in postmenopausal osteoporosis, the first suggestion that gonadal steroids play an essential role in bone metabolism.

He and his colleagues recognized ‘osteoporosis of old age’ and distinguished it from osteoporosis associated with post menopausal sate, as well as from osteoporosis from disuse, osteoporosis from malnutrition and other forms of osteoporosis.

Starting in the 1960s, researchers developed the tools to measure bone mineral density. Screening for osteoporosis became easier and more common.
History of Osteoporosis
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