Osteoporosis – The Next Epidemic

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Do you know that …

* 8 million women and 2 million men currently have this disease in the US

* 80% of the people who have osteoporosis are women

* 33% of men older than 75 years of age have osteoporosis

* 50% of women and 13% of men over 50 years of age will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime

What exactly is osteoporosis, this disease that is predicted to be the next epidemic in this country? Osteoporosis is a bone disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of the bone tissue such that a person is more prone to fractures. Osteopenia is a related term which "stands" for a less severe "case" of low bone mass.

The statistics are alarming. Once a person suffices a hip fraction, there is a 1 in 3 chance of them EVER regaining the level of independence that they had prior to it! Twenty percent of the people suffering a hip fraction die within a year of such an event.

Why is there such an increase in this disease? Osteoporosis is linked to lack of physical activity and poor dietary intake. With our sedentary culture and fast-paced, eat-on-the-run lifestyle, Americans are prime "targets" for this disease.

What can we do? Do your research. Do an internet search of the BEST study or the Bone, Estrogen, Strength Training Study done at University of Arizona from 1995-2001. The findings of this research effort are helpful in knowing how we can adjust our lifestyle to live with strong, healthy bones into later life.

The BEST Exercise Program for Osteoporosis Prevention by Lohman et al gives specific training and nutritional information to get you started in the proper direction.

Work with young people to encourage the attainment of the highest possible peak bone mass through proper nutrient intake, exercise, and other lifestyle practices like limiting smoking and alcohol consumption. This is critical.

Work to prevent osteoporosis in older adults (especially postmenopausal women) by educating them about proper positive lifestyle choices like physical activity and proper dietary habits, and the need for appropriate diagnosis and screening when treatment is necessary.

We can reduce the likelihood of this disease one step at a time! But we need to start NOW!