1. Epidemiology and Genetics of Postmenopausal Osteoporosis

  1. Dale W. Stovall MD
  1. Mark Edwards1,
  2. Rebecca Moon1,
  3. Nick Harvey1 and
  4. Cyrus Cooper1,2

Published Online: 2 AUG 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118316290.ch1

Osteoporosis: Diagnosis and Management

Osteoporosis: Diagnosis and Management

How to Cite

Edwards, M., Moon, R., Harvey, N. and Cooper, C. (2013) Epidemiology and Genetics of Postmenopausal Osteoporosis, in Osteoporosis: Diagnosis and Management (ed D. W. Stovall), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118316290.ch1

Editor Information

  1. Chair and Residency Program Director, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Riverside Regional Medical Center, Newport News, VA; Clinical Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA, USA

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of Southampton, University Hospital Southampton, Southampton, UK

  2. 2

    University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 2 AUG 2013
  2. Published Print: 20 SEP 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781119968917

Online ISBN: 9781118316290



  • osteoporosis;
  • epidemiology;
  • fracture;
  • genetics;
  • gene;
  • interaction;
  • lifecourse;
  • bone density;
  • secular


Osteoporotic fractures are common, especially in women, and are associated with a substantial health, social and economic burden worldwide. Although age-specific rates are falling in most areas, shifts in population demographics are causing fracture numbers to continue to rise particularly in Asia and the developing world. There is a growing recognition of a complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors in the aetiology of osteoporosis. A substantial number of the genes identified as contributing to bone density influence one of three biological pathways: the oestrogen pathway, Wnt-β-catenin signalling pathway and the RANKL-RANK-OPG pathway. However, together these polymorphisms explain only a small proportion of the observed variance in bone density. Early life environment, such as intrauterine nutrition, also has an effect on adult bone health and is likely to act through alterations in gene expression and epigenetic mechanisms. This highlights a possible target for population-based interventions.