MDCH Recognizes May 14-20 As National Women's Health Week

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

May 16, 2006

In conjunction with National Women’s Health Week, the Michigan Coalition for Bone Health and the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) hope to raise the awareness of osteoporosis.

Most often seen in women, but also occurring in men, osteoporosis is defined as porous bones—or bones that are not strong enough to support athletic activity. The disease is most often found in those who have experienced a bone fracture during adulthood, smokers, people who are of slight build (small frame), and adults aged 50 or older. The condition also has been described as a pediatric disease with geriatric consequences.

“Osteoporosis is largely preventable,” said Jean Martin, Chair of the Michigan Coalition for Bone Health. “Despite this fact, the disease affects nearly 44 million people, including 1.5 million in Michigan. We want people to know that a few, simple lifestyle changes can help them avoid this life-challenging disease.”

Osteoporosis prevention should begin early in life. Three essential secrets for building and maintaining strong bones for a lifetime include:

1. Make food choices that are rich in calcium and vitamin D. Good choices for calcium include low-fat dairy products (milk, cheese and yogurt), broccoli, tofu, blackstrap molasses, and fortified foods like orange juice, cereals, and breakfast bars containing added calcium. The best source of Vitamin D is 10 to 15 minutes of sunshine on the hands, arms and face (without sunscreen) three times a week. Food sources of Vitamin D include fortified dairy products, egg yolks, saltwater fish, liver, and fortified foods with added Vitamin D.

2. Participate in weight-bearing physical activity and resistance training exercises. Weight-bearing activity includes walking, running, dancing, and soccer. Resistance exercises include lifting weights or using resistance bands.

3. Choose a healthful lifestyle that excludes smoking and excessive alcohol.

Family history also plays a role in awareness as mothers and daughters typically share similar bone density. For those experiencing menopause, a bone mass loss of 20 percent can occur within the first seven years of onset.

For more information on osteoporosis, please visit www.michiganosteoporosisconnection.org or www.nof.org. For more information on the Michigan Coalition for Bone Health, please contact Jean Martin, Associate Professor of Nursing, Grand Valley State University (616-331-7167) or Molly Polverento, Michigan Public Health Institute (517-324-7397).