The test: a bone mineral density scan. The most predictive test, according to the task force, is a DXA or dual x-ray absorptiometry scan of the hip.
The guidelines: Women should get a first scan at age 65, or at 60 if they are at increased risk because of factors like low body weight or a family history of osteoporosis, the task force says. The National Osteoporosis Foundation also recommends routine screening for women at 65 and men at 70, with screening of higher-risk individuals starting at menopause, or age 50 for men.
What to consider: Many women are getting bone scans a decade or more before the suggested age, and taking medication to stem bone loss and prevent developing osteoporosis. But it's not known whether taking the most common osteoporosis drugs (a class called bisphosphonates) in your 50s will protect against the potentially devastating hip and spine fractures of osteoporosis in your 70s, when they're far more common. It's also not clear whether continuous use of the drugs is safe beyond five to 10 years.
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