Narrator: This is Science Today. Anorexia nervosa has been linked to causing a serious loss of bone density in young women. Low bone density leads to osteoporosis and is often not detected until a fracture occurs. Because of this, Dr. Aurelia Nattiv, a professor of orthopedic surgery and family medicine at UCLA, says it's important to not only screen young women with eating disorders, but also those who chronically diet.
Nattiv: The weight cycling and the low weight and restrictive eating can lead to significant bone loss at a young age, which is alarming because if they continue to stay at a lower weight, we don't have any medication at this point in time that has been shown to significantly increase bone density in that group if they maintain a low weight.
Narrator: Since osteoporosis is a silent disease, Nattiv says it's very important to understand the risk factors.
Nattiv: If a person is not aware of the risk factors, or if a physician does not discuss the risk factors and screen a patient, then the majority of those patients are going to be missed because there aren't any symptoms until the end stage, until a fracture occurs.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.