CORVALLIS - Researchers at Oregon State University are seeking women 70 years of age or older for a study on the prevention of hip fractures due primarily to osteoporosis or weakening of the bones.

Volunteers will be given a free hip bone scan to measure bone density and asked to keep a diary on any falls they may incur during the next four years. Height, weight, hip and waist measurements also will be taken during a one-time, 30-minute examination.

The OSU study hopes to shed more light on the relationship between hip fractures and osteoporosis, including the possible protective role that fat and muscle may play in guarding the hip.

"Reduced bone mineral density at the hip and falls to the side are primary risk factors for hip fractures," said Christine Snow, an associate professor of exercise and sport science at OSU and director of the university's Bone Research Laboratory. "There is some evidence that the amount of fat and muscle covering the hip may be a factor in helping to guard against hip fractures from falls on the side."

Every year, more than 300,000 Americans incur hip fractures - and half of them never recover normal function. Many become dependent on others for mobility, health care experts say, and the annual cost for treating these fractures is nearly $14 billion.

The OSU researchers are seeking at least 300 women for the study. Volunteers must be at least 70, weigh less than 250 pounds, and have had no more than one hip having joint surgery.

Volunteers will need to make one 30-minute appointment on the OSU campus in Corvallis. During the subsequent four-year period, researchers from the OSU Bone Research Laboratory will call monthly to collect diary information.

The OSU hip fracture prevention study is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Principal investigator is Wilson C. Hayes, a nationally recognized biomedical engineer who recently was named vice president of research at OSU.

To volunteer for the study, or receive more information, call 541-737-5935.

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Christine Snow, 541-737-6788