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 Annual 2010

Annual 2010

 

           
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Fighting Off Osteoporosis

How to Prevent Splintering Bones

     When Piedmont resident Linda Murphy decided to get a spur-of-the-moment bone density test, she never imagined it would reveal she had osteopenia, a condition where bone mineral density is lower than normal. Osteopenia is considered by many doctors to be a precursor to osteoporosis, a progressive disease that causes bones to become thin and brittle making them more likely to break.
     “I was 42 years old at the time and enjoying a spa vacation,” says Murphy who is now 56. “I was looking for something to do on my last day at the spa and heard they were offering bone density tests.”
     According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, low bone mass and osteoporosis affect an estimated 44 million Americans. A simple test, known as a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry
(or DEXA) scan, measures bone density in the hip and spine. The NOF recommends that all women ages 65 and older get bone mineral density testing. Younger postmenopausal women with one or more risk factors or postmenopausal women who sustain fractures should also be tested.
     Since bone density testing can be a good predictor of future fracture risks, Murphy took the test results to heart and made some lifestyle changes.
     “Osteoporosis does run in my family,” Murphy says. “After getting the results of the test, my doctor prescribed Fosamax, a bisphosphonate medication used to prevent osteoporosis. I also began to increase my intake of calcium supplements and began indulging in more dairy products and other calcium-rich foods, doing weight-bearing exercises and spending 15 minutes in the sun to get an adequate amount of
vitamin D.”
     Murphy also turned to the Foundation for Osteoporosis Research and Education in Oakland to receive subsequent DEXA scans every two years and to learn more about her condition.
     “FORE has been a wealth of information,” Murphy says. “In addition to offering testing, they are at the forefront of a lot of cutting-edge research relating to osteoporosis.”
     Kathleen Cody, executive director at FORE, says osteoporosis knowledge has evolved over the past several decades.
     “Osteoporosis was once thought to be an inevitable part of getting old,” Cody says. “We now know that it’s a treatable disease, and one that can even be prevented.”
     Cody says there are a number of risk factors for osteoporosis; some can’t be controlled, and others are unavoidable. Among the risk factors are:
      •    Being a woman. About 80 percent of all cases affect women.
      •    Being older. Bones naturally lose density through aging.
      •    Having a family history of osteoporosis.
      •    Being a petite, small-boned woman of Caucasian, Asian or Latino descent.
      •    Menopause.
     “The good news is there are a number of risk factors for osteoporosis that women can control,” Cody says. “These include maintaining a regular exercise regimen even if that means moderate walking, quitting smoking, not consuming large amounts of alcohol, checking with your doctor before taking steroids and increasing your intake of vitamin D and calcium.”
     The NOF recommends men and women ages 19-49 get 1,000 mg of calcium daily and 400-800 International Units of vitamin D. Men and women ages 50 and older should get 1,200 mg of calcium and 800-100 IUs of vitamin D. Pregnant women should check with their physician on adequate amounts of both nutrients.
      “There are also medications available today including Boniva and Fosamax that can prevent postmenopausal women from sustaining fractures and even reverse bone loss,” Cody says. “There’s a lot of conflicting information out there on osteoporosis, and we’re here to help make the scientific information practical as well as assist consumers in making smart decisions about their bone health.”


Get Help

      The Foundation for Osteoporosis Research and Education offers bone density screenings, a free online test to gauge risk factors for osteoporosis and workshops to promote awareness of the condition and more. 1814 Franklin St., Suite 620, Oakland, (510) 832-2663, fore.org. FORE also sponsors the American Bone Health hotline where consumers can talk with knowledgeable volunteers about bone health. Call (888) 843-9391 between 9 a.m.–4 p.m. weekdays.

      Alameda Hospital holds a weekly resistance/strength training class to help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. The fitness class is held 3:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m. Mondays and costs $40 for 8 weeks. 2070 Clinton Ave., Alameda, (510) 814-4061, alamedahospital.org.


Resources to Fight Osteoporosis

     ■    Actress Sally Field has become an osteoporosis advocate and has launched the free Rally With Sally For Bone Health campaign, bonehealth.com. The Web site has a video featuring easy weight-bearing exercises, treatment options and real-life success stories.

     ■    The Better Bones Foundation is a nonprofit public research and education foundation dedicated to rethinking the causes, prevention and treatment for osteoporosis. For natural solutions to bone health, visit betterbones.com or call (877) 207-0232.




 

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