Making bone health a top priority

August 2, 2009

An estimated 52 million Americans will have osteoporosis and low bone mass by next year, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), constituting what the Surgeon General 5 years ago termed "a major public health threat" with "epidemic" proportions. For 25 years, the NOF has been dedicated to preventing osteoporosis and related fractures, promoting lifelong bone health, improving the lives of those affected by the condition and-through programs of awareness, advocacy, public and health professional education, and research-finding a cure. This year, the NOF is marking its 25th anniversary by providing sets of 25 osteoporosis and bone health educational materials for patients and their physicians.

An estimated 52 million Americans will have osteoporosis and low bone mass by next year, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), constituting what the Surgeon General 5 years ago termed "a major public health threat" with "epidemic" proportions. For 25 years, the NOF has been dedicated to preventing osteoporosis and related fractures, promoting lifelong bone health, improving the lives of those affected by the condition and-through programs of awareness, advocacy, public and health professional education, and research-finding a cure. This year, the NOF is marking its 25th anniversary by providing sets of 25 osteoporosis and bone health educational materials for patients and their physicians.

For example, to help persons understand that osteoporosis is a condition that may be prevented, detected, and managed rather than a normal part of aging, the NOF compiled "25 Facts About Your Bones and Osteoporosis." Key facts include the following:

•Throughout life, persons constantly lose old bone and form new bone; when too much bone is lost or too little is formed, osteoporosis occurs.

•Staying physically active helps keep bones strong and healthy; exercising for at least 2.5 hours per week is recommended.

•Women may lose up to 20% of their bone density in the 5 to 7 years after menopause.

•Osteoporosis and the broken bones it causes can be prevented.

In "25 Ways to Improve Your Bone Health," the NOF provides a variety of patient education tips, including the following:

•Take in sufficient calcium and vitamin D every day (try calcium-rich foods, such as low-fat yogurt and cheese; make a new recipe with green vegetables that also have calcium, such as broccoli, bok choy, kale, and turnip greens; try foods that have calcium and vitamin D added, such as fortified juices, cereals, and soy milk; if needed, take a calcium supplement and a vitamin D supplement).

•Perform weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises (take a brisk walk; use light dumbbells or resistance bands in an exercise routine; join a gym or sign up for a group exercise class; go dancing; try a new sport or activity, such as tennis, hiking, or skiing).

•Maintain a healthy lifestyle (eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day, quit smoking, limit alcohol consumption, minimize consumption of salty foods, learn about any risk factors you have for osteoporosis).

•Talk to your physician about your bone health.

"25 Ways to Feel Good About Yourself" offers affirmations to help persons with osteoporosis reach personal goals (eg, "I have osteoporosis, but I know that it is treatable" or "My bone health is worth my time and attention"). "Top 25 Ways to Prevent Falls" offers practical tips for safety within the home, such as keeping floors free of clutter, installing grab bars on bathroom walls, and using assistive devices to avoid strain or injury. "25 Calcium-Rich Foods" offers additional recommendations for the best foods to eat for calcium intake.

In a separate initiative, the NOF is collaborating with EmpowHer, the home of women's health online (http://www.empowher.com), to advance women's health by increasing awareness of osteoporosis and bone health. The 2 organizations will reach women through EmpowHer's online community, NOF's Web site, e-Newsletter mentions, and reciprocal Web site linking.

For more information about NOF's 25th anniversary celebration and bone health and osteoporosis prevention programs, visit its Web site at http://www.nof.org. Or, contact the organization at National Osteoporosis Foundation, 1232 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20037-1202; telephone: (202) 223-2226; telephone (toll-free): (800) 231-4222.