Genes Are The Most Important Factor In Osteoporosis Risk
Osteoporosis is a debilitating condition where the bones become weak and brittle. The disease affects millions of people across the UK; over the age of 50, one in two women and one in five men have the condition. Unfortunately there are no warning signs, so often the disease is only diagnosed when the sufferer fractures a bone. However, there may be some good news as recent scientific developments are teaching doctors more and more about it.
Recent research into the area has found two genetic variants that increase a person’s risk of developing osteoporosis. The variants were found to occur in 20 percent of the population and could be used to screen for people likely to suffer bone fractures.
Osteoporosis happens when the structure inside the bone begins to weaken and thin. The thinning is a natural part of the ageing process, but osteoporosis makes things worse and the bones become completely brittle.
In the study, researchers at King’s College London and colleagues at the Welcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge looked at the genomes of almost 10,000 people. They searched for mutations of the genes that might increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.
Finally, they found a correlation between bone mineral density and two genes called RP5 and TNFRSF11B. Carrying either of those genes increased the risk of a person developing osteoporosis by up to 30 percent.
The genes can be measured with almost perfect accuracy, meaning that scientists could now have an early warning sign for osteoporosis. It is hoped that other research will find other methods of pre-determining risk of osteoporosis and these could be combined to comprehensively know whether someone is likely to develop the disease.