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May is National Osteoporosis Awareness Month

Being aware of its effects can help with both prevention and relief!

Either you or someone you know will be affected by the disease of Osteoporosis. But there is good news. More and more people are becoming aware of the effects of “Osteoporosis” and its predecessor “Osteopenia” and are taking preventive measures to insure that it does not lead to fractures and other serious consequences.

Current statistics indicate that half of all women and a third of all men over 50 will break a bone because of Osteoporosis and it remains the 3rd leading cause of death after the age of 65. National Osteoporosis Awareness Month is designed to get people to realize just how important bone health is. The skeletal system is the foundation for our bodies. It provides more than just strength and protection and is arguably one of our most critical systems.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis describes the problem: “Osteoporosis, or porous bone is a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, leading to bone fragility and an increased risk of fractures of the hip, spine, and wrist. It is often called a “silent” disease because it has no discernable symptoms until there is a bone fracture. Like other tissues in the body, bone tissue is in a state of constant flux – remodeling and rebuilding. There are many influences on bone mass and strength, such as genetics, hormones, physical exercise and diet (especially intake of calcium, phosphate, vitamin D, and other nutrients). Osteoporosis occurs when there are problems with these factors, resulting in more bone loss than bone rebuilding.

Osteoporosis can strike at any age and affects both men and women. In the United States today, more than 40 million people either already have osteoporosis or are at high risk for fractures due to low bone mass.”

Yesterday: Osteoporosis was considered a “woman’s menopausal problem” and didn’t recognize that men, too, can also have the disease which poses a significant threat to their mobility and independence. There were few diagnostic tools available to diagnose the disease.

Today: Now, health care professionals recognize that the devastating consequences of low bone mass such as broken bones, can be prevented!!! Bone mineral density of the hip is the best predictor of fracture. Studies showed that body weight, diet, physical activity, family history and medication use are important risk factors.

Tomorrow: Advances in scientific knowledge have ushered in a new era in bone health, one in which bone fractures can be prevented in the vast majority of individuals and identified early and treated effectively in those who do get them. Consider that we are an aging population. Today’s Baby Boomer and Gen-Xer is tomorrow’s Super Senior. A Super Senior is defined as someone 65 or older whom, according to Dr. Scott Olson of the Living Well Daily Blog, as “someone who looks 20 years younger than they are… still running circles around peers, kids, grandkids and on the golf course.” These Super Seniors have chosen a healthy lifestyle that includes nutrition, exercise that keeps them moving, maintaining strong relationships, continuing lifelong learning and depending more on therapeutic wellness than medications to keep them active.

Let’s face a fun fact. We are all going to live longer. Being aware of how we can impact our health to allow us to enjoy living longer, including being aware of our bone health, will only make the journey better!