Dr. Mona Blog: Osteoporosis – The Silent Disease - New York News

Dr. Mona Blog: Osteoporosis – The Silent Disease

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By Dr. Mona Khanna, FOX 32 News medical contributor

Chicago area flooding wasn't the only big story that came out of the Windy City this week. "The 2010 Burden of Osteoporosis and Low Bone Mass among Residents of the U.S. Age 50 and Older" study was released here at the Interdisciplinary Symposium on Osteoporosis.

I was privileged to serve an a panel launching the Symposium with experts in aging and health – Barbara Hannah Grufferman, the energetic author of The Best of Everything After 50, Dr Murray Favus who treats patients with bone diseases at the University of Chicago and Dr Karen Kemmis, a New York-based physical therapist who stressed the importance of exercise to build bone.

You might be surprised to learn the report states that, although the greatest absolute number of people suffering from low bone mass are Caucasian-American, Mexican-Americans are one of the highest risk racial/ethnic group. All in all, more than 55 million U.S. adults have low bone mass, which puts them at risk for broken bones. These broken bones, or fractures, occur most often in the hip, back and wrist. A hip fracture foreshadows gloom and doom -- sadly, more than 20% of these elderly patients will die within one year. Bone density tests of the hip or spine can diagnose low bone mass. Osteoporosis is the most severe type of low bone mass.

Risk factors for low bone mass include age older than 50, menopause (surgical or natural), a petite frame, family history, a history of bone fractures, excessive alcohol use, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, some medications and medical conditions, excess protein, sodium and caffeine, and inadequate intake of fruits, vegetables, calcium and Vitamin D.

It's never too late – or too early! – to do something to prevent and treat low bone mass. Weight-bearing exercises, muscle-strengthening exercises, eating a diet rich in calcium and Vitamin D (yes, that includes ice cream, but in moderation…) and considering hormone-replacement therapy are all important tools.

Don't forget that about 20% of patients with low bone mass are men, so it's important to dispel the myth that osteoporosis is just a woman's disease. It's estimated that by 2030, more than 75 million of U.S. adults will have low bone mass.

A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that simple reminders about the risk of fractures with low bone mass prevented fractures and improved quality of life. After all, a broken bone, especially in our older years, is not easy to deal with. SO, consider this blog your reminder! Get checked, get your parents checked and incorporate some of the preventive tools mentioned above in your daily life.

The Symposium was hosted by Washington, D.C.-based National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF.org, @osteoporosisNOF), a first line resource for bone information.

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