Protect Yourself against Osteoporosis

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis is a public health concern for around 44 million Americans. Ten million have it, and an estimated 34 million have low bone mass — a risk factor for the condition. The good news is there are steps you can take to keep your bones strong.

Carole Mason eats right and stays active, so when she got the results of her bone scan, she couldn’t believe her ears. “I said are you sure? So, anyway, they showed me,” she tells Ivanhoe. Mason had osteoporosis — weakened bones that fracture easily.

Endocrinologist Diane Biskobing, M.D., of the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, says, “People end up in wheelchairs after a hip fracture and they lose a lot of mobility and have a lot of complications.”

According to Biskobing, 15 percent of hip fractures even end up being fatal. And while diet and lifestyle are two factors, there are others. “Just being menopausal is the major risk factor.” In fact, being Caucasian or Asian and a family history also increase risk.

The good news is walking even three hours a week can reduce the risk of fracture by 6 percent, and researchers are still finding more ways to strengthen bones. “This drug produces about a 10 percent, 10 to 14 percent improvement in bone density in the spine, which is really quite remarkable,” Dr. Biskobing says. The drug is parathyroid hormone.

University of Connecticut geriatrician Karen Prestwood, M.D., is taking a non-drug approach with an energy-emitting mat. She says, “If you put an electrical current into a bone, it actually enhances the ability of the bone to heal, so that it seems to stimulate, what we call, bone formation or bone build up.” Prestwood hopes the mat will be one way to prevent the bone loss.

As for Mason , these days she makes sure she gets her calcium – but hasn’t slowed down a step.

Since osteoporosis has no symptoms until a fracture happens, a bone scan is recommended for all women over 65 or younger if you have a family history. Smoking and being thin can also increase a person’s risk.

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