~ Broken Bone Victims 'Lack Vitamin D'

Press Association, 12-08-05

The majority of patients who suffer a broken bone have inadequate levels of vitamin D, new research has suggested.

A study by Medway Maritime Hospital involving 870 patients showed that 96% of those who had broken a bone did not have high enough levels of vitamin D - often called the "sunshine vitamin".

Vitamin D is key to healthy bones as it makes sure that the body can absorb calcium which helps them stay strong.

Older people with osteoporosis face a much greater risk of suffering a fracture due to brittle bones.

The 870 patients in the study were mostly older people who attended the hospital's metabolic bone clinic, with 420 suffering a broken bone.

The research, led by Dr Paul Ryan, found that patients' vitamin D levels were significantly lower during the winter because people get most of their vitamin D from exposure to sunlight.

Drugs company Merck Sharp & Dohme has launched a new treatment which includes the recommended dose of vitamin D for post-menopausal women with osteoporosis who are at risk of having low levels of the vitamin.

Fosavance tablets are licensed to cut the risk of spinal and hip fractures in these patients.

The company said the drug was the first once-weekly treatment to combine a bisphosphonate with vitamin D3.

Dr Ryan, a consultant physician in nuclear medicines in the osteoporosis unit, said: "Elderly people with osteoporosis should build up their vitamin D levels to reduce the risk of fracture, and protect themselves from long-term disability."
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