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Are Women Doing Enough to Protect Their Bones?

  [ 248 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • May 19, 2003

HRT Controversy Put Women at Risk for Devastating Bone Disorder

SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Since the abrupt halt of the
Women's Health Initiative study in July, many women have stopped using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in order to protect themselves from breast cancer -- but is this at the expense of their bones? Although bone-protecting agents are not needed for everyone, women should be aware of the long-term risks of osteoporosis and take the appropriate steps to prevention and treatment.

"Postmenopausal women are at risk of developing osteoporosis because they no longer produce bone-protecting estrogen," says rheumatologist
Dr. Robin Dore. "Women lose bone mass after menopause, some gradually and some at an accelerated rate. Since significant bone loss can compromise bone strength and result in fractures, women need to understand the serious consequences of osteoporosis."

According to Dr. Dore, women need adequate intake of calcium and
Vitamin D. While the basic source of calcium is dietary, and sunlight in the case of Vitamin D, they can check with their physician whether supplementation is called for.

If necessary, there are several prescription medications approved by them FDA for the prevention or treatment of osteoporosis. Although HRT is one way of protecting women from bone loss, other treatments available include Evista, Fosamax, Actonel, Calcitonin, Miacalcin or Forteo.

In addition to treatment, the risks of osteoporosis can be reduced through lifestyle modifications like appropriate weight-bearing exercise and refraining from tobacco and excessive alcohol use. Since falls cause fractures, fall risk reduction is also an important component of an osteoporosis awareness program.

Assemblymember Jenny Oropeza (D- Long Beach) understands the dangers of osteoporosis and has co-authored a resolution with Assemblymember Sally Lieber to promote awareness.

"Osteoporosis is a serious disease that sneaks up on you. This
devastating condition affects nearly 28 million Americans each year, many of whom never experience any symptoms until they fall and break a hip or suffer irreversible spinal deterioration and then it is often late."

Assemblymember Oropeza encourages legislators to take advantage of the
free bone density screenings at the Capitol this week. Early detection of low bone mass is critical. Fortunately, bone mass can
be measured through painless bone density screenings, which can be ordered by a physician. It is also important to point out that osteoporosis is an "equal opportunity" disease -- men also develop osteoporosis, but not to the extent that women do.

Other risk factors include:

-- Maternal family history of fractures

-- Diets low in calcium

-- Lack of exercise

-- Overuse of alcohol

-- Smoking

-- Ethnic Heritage

-- Caucasians and Asians have a higher incidence rate

-- Thin body frames

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