Bone Up On Bone Loss

Osteoporosis is a major cause of disability in the U.S. The loss of bone as we age can cause shrinking stature, disabling pain, and bone fracture. An older person who fractures a hip due to osteoporosis has only a 50% chance of full recovery. In fact, osteoporosis indirectly leads to more deaths in older women than breast cancer.

The best weapons in fighting this disease are knowledge and prevention. Here’s a chance to bone up on osteoporosis . . .

1. Osteoporosis is a disease of elderly women.

 True or  False

2. Bone loss begins at what age?

 a. 30
 b. 40
 c. 60

3. Which of the following is not a risk factor for osteoporosis?

 a. early menopause
 b. low testosterone levels
 c. cigarette smoking
 d. a physically active lifestyle
 e. being Caucasian or Asian

4. Early warning signs of osteoporosis include pain and bone fractures.

 True or  False

5. Taking estrogen can slow bone loss.

 True or  False


1. False – Though osteoporosis is most common in women over 55, women as young as 40 can suffer from the disease, as well as men. Women are more susceptible because they have smaller bones, and because they lose estrogen after menopause, which results in bone depletion.

2. a – In young people, bones are replaced as they break down. This process peaks for most people in their 30s and then begins to decline. Bone depletion accelerates until the age of 60, where it slows but continues.

3. d – Staying physically active, particularly with weight-bearing exercise, can help preserve your bones. Other risk factors for osteoporosis include family history (in a mother, sister or grandmother), having more than one alcoholic drink a day and not getting enough calcium in your diet.

4. False – Osteoporosis is called a “silent disease” because the symptoms generally aren’t noticeable in the early stages. Most people are unaware they have the disease until it leads to bone fractures or shrinking stature.

5. True – While estrogen replacement can help prevent thinning bones after menopause, it may not be suitable for every woman. The best preventive measures include getting adequate calcium* and regular weight-bearing exercise.

*Daily calcium needs vary with age: The National Academy of Sciences now calls for 1,000 mg per day for adults, aged 30 to 50, and 1,200 mg for people over 50. The National Institute of Health recommends a higher amount – at least 1,500 mg for post-menopausal women who are not using estrogen replacement and for all adults over 65. Tip: Get adequate vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium.

Prostate Cancer

It is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in America after skin cancer – with over 200,000 new cases per year nationwide.

  • It is highly curable when detected early enough.
  • About 80% of cases occur in men over age 65; when it occurs in younger men it’s often a more aggressive cancer.
  • Black men have a 30% higher incidence than white men.
  • Your risk for prostate cancer doubles if you have a father or brother who had it.
  • Though early prostate cancer can be symptom-free, it eventually can cause urination problems similar to those triggered by prostate enlargement (i.e. weak urine flow, frequent need or inability to urinate, or pain on urination).
  • Benign enlargement of the prostate gland, a common condition many men face by age 50, does not increase your risk for prostate cancer.
  • Screening: Men aged 40+ should have regular digital rectal exams. Some experts recommend aprostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test in men aged 50+; however, others do not recommend this screening. Check with your health care provider to determine what’s best for you.
  • Possible prevention: Lose excess weight, stay physically fit and avoid a high-fat diet.

Just Ask! The American Foundation for Urologic Disease, 800-242-2383; The Mathews Foundation for Prostate Cancer Research, 800-234-6284; or American Cancer Society, 800-227-2345.

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