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Stretching at Your Desk - 7/15/2011

Stretching is the process of putting particular parts of the body into a position that will lengthen or elongate the muscles and associated tissues. The Healthy Back Store recognizes the importance of stretching as it relates to one’s health and fitness, especially in our increasingly sedentary lives. Sitting at a desk and in front of computer monitors for long hours each day can affect one’s health and has a serious impact on the body’s flexibility, even for individuals who exercise regularly.

By undertaking a regular stretching regimen a number of changes begin to occur within the body and specifically within the muscles themselves. A regular stretching routine can produce the following benefits:

  • Reduced muscle tension (stress relief)
  • Increased range of movement in the joints
  • Enhanced muscular coordination
  • Increased circulation of the blood to various parts of the body
  • Increased energy levels (resulting from increased circulation)

There are a number of stretches that you can do while at your desk including:

  • Touch the Sky: Reach your arms up to the sky and as far back as you can safely go. You can try grasping like you’re trying to reach the stars.
  • Side Stretch: While standing, reach your one arm over head and to the opposite side. You can keep the other hand on your hip or in the air.
  • Touch Your Toes: Take off your shoes if you can. Wiggle your toes. Bend at the hip and reach for your toes. Bending your knees is OK.
  • Shoulder Opener: Lean your palms against the wall above your head and bending at the hip to stretch out your shoulders and back.

While stretching can be done at the desk, the Healthy Back Store also suggests incorporating ergonomic furniture or accessories into the office to help alleviate many of the pains associated with sitting all day. At the Healthy Back Store you’ll find executive chairs with built in lumbar support to maintain proper spinal alignment and task chairs with recline action, contoured cushions, responsive backrests. These chairs provide ergonomic support while promoting movement, allowing you to stretch comfortably. Even something as small as a footrest reminds you to sit all the way back in your chair, allowing the chair to take some of the strain and stress off of your back.

The Healthy Back Store is a specialty retailer that provides high end comfort solutions and ergonomic products for back pain and other physical conditions. The company offers pain relieving products for sleeping, working, exercising and relaxing including back and neck supports, specialty mattresses, office chairs, exercise and therapy equipment, recliners and massage chairs. Healthy Back sells recognizable name brands such as Herman Miller and Tempur-Pedic, but also represents smaller, specialized manufacturers offering a growing selection of house-branded goods. Healthy Back has 23 stores in 6 states across the United States, and also sells through its website and call center, making it the largest privately owned back care retailer.

Finding the Perfect Mattress - Washingtonian Magazine: January 2011

I am a bad sleeper. In junior high school, I earned the nickname Princess and the Pea after I woke up at a friend’s house and complained about the bedding.

“I felt the mattress poking me all night,” I told her. In an effort to prove I was crazy, she reached under it only to find a bobby pin.

My grievances continue to pile up. Lately, they concern my current mattress, Tempur-Pedic’s Deluxe bed, which makes my right leg feel as if it’s been shot with Novocain.

It’s time for a new bed. But how can you commit to something you’ll use for so many hours a night (at least eight in a perfect world) for so many years (the average mattress lasts eight to ten years) without trying it out first? I test-drove a parking lot’s worth of cars before settling on a Honda and kissed a lot of frogs before marrying Karl.

So why can’t I sleep on a few beds before committing to spend 23,360 hours in one? Fortunately, Karl works for Healthy Back, a national chain headquartered in Beltsville. With the permission—and raised eyebrow—of company owner Tony Mazlish and an overnight bag containing our pajamas and toothbrushes and a couple of flashlights, my husband and I have come to do just that.

10 PM
“I have to admit,” says Fairfax store manager Jeremy Brown before locking us in for the night, “this is a bit weird.” Most people, he says, spend just eight minutes trying out beds.

Brown spent the past half hour giving me the lay of the mattress land. With 17 models on the floor, there’s a lot of choice: foam, latex, and a combination of both. There’s not a spring in the store.

As a tour highlight, Brown dropped what looked like a pinball onto a chunk of latex and then onto a section of memory foam. “Watch this,” he said as the ball rebounded five inches in the air. This bounce—or pushback—makes a latex bed feel most like a traditional coil mattress. When he released the pinball onto the memory foam, it landed with a motionless thud.

“See how the foam molds around the ball?” Brown said. “The foam absorbs the energy and doesn’t create pressure points.” (That’s what springs do.) It also allows you to move around without your bedmate feeling the motion.

Karl begins laying our comforter over the first contender, Sealy’s Embody Shelter, a synthetic-latex bed with a special Polartec casing that’s supposed to make the mattress cool and breathable.

The firmest of the latex lot, the Embody Shelter ($2,999—all prices are for queen size) is so unyielding, it feels as if it needs to be broken in. Though we’ve set our alarm to go off every 90 minutes, I pull up stakes after ten minutes and move us over to the Embody Insightful ($1,699).

“It’s like sleeping on a cloud,” Karl sighs. The Insightful—a foam/latex hybrid—is definitely softer while still stable, like a cloud on top of a supportive latex core. Despite the unsettling glare from the floodlights in the parking lot and the feeling that I’m sleeping in a gigantic fishbowl, I drift off.

1:30 AM
When the alarm sounds, I’m reluctant to get up. Karl is even more so. He drags his pillow behind him and sleepwalks over to a hybrid bed by Dormia ($1,499), which features both latex and memory foam.

“This will take a little time to heat up,” says Karl before falling back to sleep. He’s referring to the memory foam, which is softened by body temperature. In the ensuing 90 minutes, the bed never gets soft enough and hits just the right pressure points in my hip to make my leg, but not me, fall asleep.

3 AM
The TrueForm Cool Springs ($1,484) is Sealy’s answer to Tempur-Pedic, the mother of all memory foam. Tempur-Pedic was developed by NASA and immortalized by the unspillable-wineglass commercial. At this point, I could pass out on a bed of nails. Which is a little what the TrueForm feels like. I hop next door to the Tempur-Pedic Classic ($1,699), which is equally uncomfortable. Built with fewer layers of foam, it’s the firmest bed I’ve tested all night. Though I’ve been operating under the impression that I want a firm bed, I begin to wonder if softer is the way to go.

4:30 AM
I ask myself: What would Oprah do? Fortunately, I can at least get a feel for what she’d sleep in. Karl and I continue our march across the store and flop into Tempur-Pedic’s Rhapsody bed ($2,899), the same one Oprah touted on one of her shows. With a high-density layer sandwiched in the middle and a softer, fluffier top, this mattress is the big O of bliss. I fall into a deep sleep and have a dream about shoplifting the matching Rhapsody pillow ($199).

6 AM
Our night ends in a virtual Tempur-Pedic Experience—a fully enclosed, make-believe bedroom in the back of the store complete with teak nightstands, frosted panels, and a plasma-screen television on which earlier I watched a video showing images of waterfalls, sand dunes, and a very pregnant woman reclining on a mattress. “Your bed should always give you comfort,” said the voiceover.

The bed here is the Allura ($4,099). It’s like the Rhapsody on steroids: two high-density layers instead of one with an even plusher top. It’s like sleeping on a cloud on top of a marshmallow—but it’s not squishy.

8 AM
I awake to see, on the nightstand, a framed photo of what looks like a Balinese grass hut. For half a second, I think I’m in a Four Seasons and not a strip mall. My body is loose and unkinked, as if it’s been massaged with warm oil. And after just two hours of sleep, I feel alert enough to ace the SATs.

“Can a bed really do all that for you?” I ask Karl.

“This one can,” he says, then rolls over.

Staring at the ceiling, I wonder why more mattress stores don’t operate as hotels after hours. Not that I enjoyed spending the night in a strip mall, but it is a good way to test-drive a mattress before making the commitment. Maybe I’ll present a business plan—after I sleep on it.

Click here for a full article in the Washingtonian.

Osteoporosis and The Best Exercise - 7/14/2011

Bone is a living tissue that reacts to exercise in a way very similar to muscle. Just as a muscle gets stronger and bigger with use, a bone becomes stronger and denser when it is called upon to bear weight. For individuals with osteoporosis, it is important to build and maintain bone density to enhance your balance, flexibility, and strength through exercise and proper stretching. By doing so, you can reduce your chance of falling and fracturing bones.


There are two types of exercise that are especially important for building and maintaining bone density: weight bearing and resistance. Weight-bearing exercises are those in which your bones and muscles work against gravity. Simple examples include walking, climbing stairs, dancing, and playing tennis. The Healthy Back Store offers a number of exercise tools that are designed to help individuals build and maintain bone density and can further improve workout results. Examples include the iJOY Exercise Board by Human Touch. The iJoy Board balance trainer workout involves your hips, legs, abdominal and lumbar muscles and obliques. Or try the Body Sport Exercise Ball. The secret to the Body Sport is its spherical structure, which promotes balance and coordination by constantly engaging your core to enhance any exercise into an aerobic workout.


Equally important to reducing your risk of falling is activities that enhance your body's balance, flexibility, and strength. Balance refers to the ability to maintain your body's stability while in motion or standing still. Flexibility is the range of motion of a muscle or group of muscles. A great way to improve both your body's' balance and flexibility is through the use of the Healthy Back Inversion Table which allows you to keep your body aligned with the downwards gravitational force, reconfiguring into its natural s-curve shape, as you more effectively engage in stretching exercises.


While stretching can best be done using inversion therapy or other equipment specific to stretching, the Healthy Back Store also suggests incorporating ergonomic furniture or accessories into the office to help alleviate many of the pains associated with sitting all day. At the Healthy Back Store youll find office chairs with built in lumbar supports to maintain proper spinal alignment and task chairs with recline action, contoured cushions, and responsive backrests; features that promote movement and flexibility.


In addition, it is vital to try and stay away from aspects of your lifestyle that are harmful to your body's bone and muscle health. Do not slouch when standing, walking, or sitting for this can ruin your posture and bone alignment and do not move too quickly or engage in sports or activities that require twisting the spine or bending forward from the waist, such as conventional sit-ups, toe touches, or swinging a golf club. Tobacco and excessive alcohol intake are also toxic to your bones, putting you at higher risk for low bone mass and osteoporosis. People who drink heavily tend to have more bone loss and fractures due to poor nutrition and an increased risk of falling.


If you have osteoporosis, it is important for you to get plenty of exercise. However, you will need to choose your activities carefully. Be sure to avoid activities with a high risk of falling, such as skiing or skating; those that have too much impact, such as jogging and jumping rope; and those that cause you to twist or bend, such as golf.


Unfortunately, many people become so afraid of breaking another bone that they become more sedentary, which leads to further loss of bone and muscle. Rest assured, that by using the proper tools and practicing proper posture, you can protect your bones while remaining physically active. Every activity promoted by Healthy Back products can be adapted to fit your age, ability, lifestyle, and strength allowing individuals with osteoporosis to feel and live better than ever before!


The Healthy Back Store is a specialty retailer that provides high end comfort solutions and ergonomic products for back pain and other physical conditions. The company offers pain relieving products for sleeping, working, exercising and relaxing including back and neck supports, specialty mattresses, office chairs, exercise and therapy equipment, recliners and massage chairs. Healthy Back sells recognizable name brands such as Herman Miller and Tempur-Pedic, but also represents smaller, specialized manufacturers offering a growing selection of house-branded goods. Healthy Back has 23 stores in 6 states across the United States, and also sells through its website and call center, making it the largest privately owned back care retailer.

Osteoporosis - How To Prevent Future Falls & Fractures

Falls are a major source of fractures. The likelihood that you will fall depends on both personal and environmental factors.

A fall may occur because your reflexes have slowed over time, making them less able to react quickly to a sudden shift in body position. Loss of muscle mass may occur as you age, which can diminish your strength. Changes in vision and hearing can also affect your balance, as can the use of alcohol and certain medications. People with chronic illnesses that affect their circulation, sensation, mobility, or mental alertness are more likely to fall. To reduce your risk of falling, keep this personal safety checklist in mind:

Stay active to maintain muscle strength, balance, and flexibility.
• Have your vision and hearing checked regularly and corrected as needed.
• Discuss your medications with your doctor to see if one of them (or their combination) might lead to falls.

At any age, people can make changes in their environment to reduce their risk of falling and breaking a bone. The following safety checklists provide a few tips that should help:


• Use nightlights throughout your home.
• Keep all rooms free from clutter, especially the floors.
• Keep floor surfaces smooth but not slippery. When entering rooms, be aware of differences in floor levels and thresholds.
• Wear supportive, low-heeled shoes even at home. Avoid walking around in socks, stockings, or floppy slippers.
• Check that all carpets and area rugs have skid-proof backing or are tacked to the floor, including carpeting on stairs.
• Keep electrical cords and telephone lines out of walkways.
• Be sure that all stairways are well lit and that stairs have handrails on both sides. Consider placing fluorescent tape on the edges of top and bottom steps.
• Install grab bars on bathroom walls beside tubs, showers, and toilets. If you are unstable on your feet, consider using a plastic chair with a back and nonskid leg tips in the shower.
• Use a rubber bathmat in the shower or tub.
• Keep a flashlight with extra batteries beside your bed.
• Add ceiling fixtures to rooms lit only by lamps, or install lamps that can be turned on by a switch near the entrance to the room.
• Use at least 100-watt light bulbs in your home.


• In bad weather, consider using a cane or walker for extra stability.
• In winter, wear warm boots with rubber soles for added traction.
• Look carefully at floor surfaces in public buildings. Many floors are made of highly polished marble or tile that can be very slippery. When floors have plastic or carpet runners in place, try to stay on them whenever possible.
• Use a shoulder bag, fanny pack, or backpack to leave hands free.
• Stop at curbs to check height before stepping up or down. Be cautious at curbs that have been cut away to allow access for bikes or wheelchairs. The incline may lead to a fall.

Once Is Enough: A Guide to Preventing Future Fractures

So, you’ve broken a bone. Only those who have experienced a fracture can truly understand how painful and debilitating it can be. Recovering should be your first priority. However, you and your doctor also will want to determine whether this fracture is a symptom of osteoporosis. If you have this underlying disorder, it puts you at greater risk for future fractures. If you are age 50 or older, there is a very good chance your fracture is related to osteoporosis.

Many people are unaware of the link between a broken bone and osteoporosis. Osteoporosis, or “porous bone” is a disease characterized by low bone mass. It makes bones fragile and more prone to fractures, especially the bones of the hip, spine, and wrist. Osteoporosis is called a “silent disease” because bone loss occurs without symptoms. People typically do not know that they have osteoporosis until their bones become so weak that a sudden strain, twist, or fall results in a fracture.

Osteoporosis is a major public health threat for an estimated 44 million Americans, 68 percent of whom are women. In the United States today, approximately 10 million people already have the disease and nearly 34 million more are believed to have low bone mass, which leaves them at increased risk for osteoporosis. Of the 10 million Americans estimated to already have osteoporosis, 8 million are women and 2 million are men.

One in two women and one in four men will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. At least 90 percent of all hip and spine fractures among older white women can be attributed to underlying bone fragility. Moreover, women near or past menopause who have sustained a fracture in the past are twice as likely to experience another fracture. Yet, unfortunately, only 5 percent of patients with osteoporotic fractures are referred for an osteoporosis evaluation and medical treatment.

The Osteoporosis Evaluation
It is never too late to talk to your doctor about osteoporosis. Ideally, you should talk to your doctor during your recovery about whether you might be a candidate for an osteoporosis evaluation. But even if your fracture has healed, you can be evaluated and begin taking steps to protect your bones now.

Many different kinds of doctors can evaluate and treat osteoporosis. Start with your primary care doctor or the doctor treating your fracture. He or she probably can conduct the evaluation and may then refer you to a specialist, such as an endocrinologist or rheumatologist, if you require treatment.

One thing your doctor will do is ask about your medical history and lifestyle to determine whether you have risk factors for osteoporosis. Some of the factors that increase the risk of developing osteoporosis include personal or family history of fractures; low levels of the hormone estrogen or testosterone; and the use of certain medications, such as glucocorticoids or anti-seizure medications, that may contribute to bone fragility. Your doctor also may want to test your blood or urine and may suggest that you have a bone mineral density test.

A bone mineral density (BMD) test is the best way to determine your bone health. This test can identify osteoporosis, determine your risk for fractures (broken bones), and measure your response to osteoporosis treatment. The most widely recognized BMD test is called a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, or DXA test. The test is safe and painless, a bit like having an x ray, but with much less exposure to radiation. It can measure bone density at your hip and spine and takes only 15 minutes to complete. For a DXA test, you will be asked to lie on a table while a machine above you measures your bone density.

Some private insurance plans will cover BMD tests ordered by your doctor. Medicare also may pay for a BMD test under certain circumstances for women and men age 65 or older. Your doctor and his or her office staff can help you determine if Medicare will cover a BMD test for you.

Strategies to Reduce Your Risk of Fractures

You may feel concerned or even frightened after being diagnosed with osteoporosis. However, the good news is that, armed with information and the support of your doctor, you can significantly improve your bone health and reduce your risk of future fractures with a combination of medication, diet, exercise, and lifestyle modifications.

Several medications are available to prevent and treat osteoporosis. These products have been proven effective at minimizing additional bone loss and reducing fracture risk. Your doctor can help you understand the benefits and risks of each of the following medications and select one that is right for you:

  • Bisphosphonate drugs: alendronate (Fosamax), 1 risedronate (Actonel), ibandronate (Boniva), and zoledronic acid (Reclast)
  • Calcitonin (Miacalcin and Fortical)
  • Raloxifene (Evista), a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM)
  • Teriparatide (Forteo), a form of the parathyroid hormone (PTH), which is secreted by the parathyroid glands
  • Estrogen therapy (also called hormone therapy when estrogen and another hormone, progestin, are combined).

In men, reduced levels of testosterone may be linked to the development of osteoporosis. Men with abnormally low levels of testosterone may be prescribed testosterone replacement therapy to help prevent or slow bone loss.

In addition to taking your medication, some of the most important things you can do are to follow a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, maintain an adequate daily intake of protein, monitor your sodium intake, and get plenty of exercise.

Calcium is needed to maintain healthy, strong bones throughout your life. Unfortunately, most Americans do not get enough calcium from their diets. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are excellent sources of calcium, and some non-dairy foods such as broccoli, almonds, and sardines can provide smaller amounts. In addition, many foods that you may already enjoy - juices, breads, and cereals - can now be found fortified with calcium. Calcium supplements can ensure that you get enough calcium each day, especially in people with a proven milk allergy. The Institute of Medicine recommends a daily calcium intake of 1,000 mg (milligrams) for men and women, increasing to 1,200 mg for adults age 50 and older.

Calcium supplements are available without a prescription in a wide range of preparations and strengths. Many people ask which calcium supplement they should take. The “best” supplement is the one that meets your needs based on tolerance, convenience, cost, and availability. In general, you should choose calcium supplements that are known brand names with proven reliability. Also, you will absorb calcium better if you take it several times a day in smaller amounts of 500 mg or less each time.

Vitamin D plays a significant role in helping your body absorb calcium. The relationship between calcium and vitamin D is similar to that of a locked door and a key. Vitamin D is the key that unlocks the door, allowing calcium to enter your bloodstream. As we age, our bodies become less able to absorb calcium, which makes getting enough vitamin D even more important. The recommended daily intake for vitamin D is 400 to 600 IU (International Units). Many people get this amount through natural exposure to sunlight, which our bodies use to make vitamin D, and by consuming vitamin D-fortified foods such as milk. In addition, many calcium supplements are fortified with vitamin D.

Sodium, a main component of table salt, affects our need for calcium by increasing the amount of it we excrete in urine. As a result, people with diets high in sodium, or table salt, appear to need more calcium than people with low-sodium diets to ensure that, on balance, they retain enough calcium for their bones.

Protein in excess amounts also increases the amount of calcium we excrete in urine, but it provides benefits for bone health as well. For example, protein is needed for fracture healing. In addition, studies have shown that elderly people with a hip fracture who do not have enough protein in their diets are more likely to experience loss of independence, institutionalization, and even death after their fracture. The recommended daily intake for protein is 56 grams for men and 46 grams for women.

It is perfectly understandable that you want to avoid another fracture. No one who has broken a bone wants to revisit that pain and loss of independence. However, living your life “on the sidelines” is not an effective way to protect your bones. Remaining physically active reduces your risk of heart disease, colon cancer, and type 2 diabetes. It may also protect you against prostate and breast cancer, high blood pressure, obesity, and mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. If that isn’t enough to convince you to stay active, consider this: exercise is one of the best ways to preserve your bone density and prevent falls as you age.

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Simple Exercise in Children Yields Long-Term Skeletal Benefit - 7/15/2011

HealthyBack.com recognizes the important benefits of a healthy lifestyle and strongly believe it’s never to early to begin cultivating those healthy habits. Youth is a critical time in the development for many physical and mental processes, yet new research is placing extra importance on skeletal development and its benefits derived from activity during these years. Recent studies by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) have shown that jumping exercises during just one school year in early childhood can trigger sustainable increases in bone mineral density (BMD). The studies demonstrate the value of even simple high impact activities and support the notion that bone mass attained in youth can be an important determinant of lifelong skeletal health.


NIAMS researcher Christine Snow, Ph.D., and her colleagues at Oregon State University tested the effects of a school-based exercise intervention on the BMD of pre-pubertal children.


Children enrolled in the Building Growing Skeleton in Youth (BUGSY) program were assigned to one of two groups for a single school year. Children in the intervention group performed a series of 100 consecutive jumps off of a two-foot high box three days a week. Children in the control group participated in a standard physical education program without the jumping regimen.


Snow and her colleagues followed one set of 57 study participants for eight years after a single school year of jumping exercises. They found that children in the jumping group had sustained significant gains in BMD at the eight-year mark, although the differences between groups were not as great as immediately after the intervention.


It is well known that physical activities that stress the skeleton are the most beneficial for bone density, but Snow’s longitudinal research may have identified strategies in youth that could reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures later in life. But your children don’t have to jump 100 times a day to increase their BMD. Instead, your preteens can participate in a number of other physical activities like sports or exercise.


HealthyBack.com carries a range of exercise products geared to provide unique and effective workouts for all ages, including preteens. The Stamina Trampoline and The Body Sport Exercise Ball
 are perfect for high impact exercises proven to increase BMD. Or the iJoy Exercise Board, which provides a medium impact, high cardio workout that is just plain fun. 


Says Snow, "In the growing skeleton, we believe that there is both an optimal time and an optimal exercise program to promote skeletal strength." Thus, an exercise program began in pre-puberty children and continued throughout the school years may optimize and solidify gains in skeletal structure and lead to a healthier lifestyle. Have your preteen try one of HealthyBack.com’s numerous high impact workout products today and see the difference it makes for life.


The Healthy Back Store is a specialty retailer that provides high end comfort solutions and ergonomic products for back pain and other physical conditions. The company offers pain relieving products for sleeping, working, exercising and relaxing including back and neck supports, specialty mattresses, office chairs, exercise and therapy equipment, recliners and massage chairs. Healthy Back sells recognizable name brands such as Herman Miller and Tempur-Pedic, but also represents smaller, specialized manufacturers offering a growing selection of house-branded goods. Healthy Back has 23 stores in 6 states across the United States, and also sells through its website and call center, making it the largest privately owned back care retailer.


Men Can Get Osteoporosis Too

Most people don't think that men develop osteoporosis. This disease, in which bone becomes thin and fragile and can fracture easily, is mostly associated with women. Doctors don't often discuss the issue with their male patients. But men can get the hip and other bone fractures that come with osteoporosis, too, and it's no less painful or debilitating for them than it is for women.

Men are usually diagnosed with osteoporosis only when they have fractured a bone. Men don't generally experience the rapid bone loss in their 50's that women do, but by age 65 or 70, they are losing bone mass at the same rate as women. Hip fractures occur at older ages in men, which might explain why men who break a hip are more likely to die of complications than women. More than half of all men who suffer a hip fracture go from the hospital to a nursing home, and 79 percent of those who survive for one year still live in nursing homes or intermediate care facilities.

Scientists are trying to learn more about the causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of osteoporosis and its related fractures in men as well as in women. In 1999, NIH's National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), and two other NIH components, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), launched a seven-year study that is following 5,700 men, age 65 or older. "Mr. OS," as it is called, aims to determine the extent to which the risk of fractures in men is related to bone mass and other factors such as their bone structure, lifestyle and tendency to fall.

In the NCI component of "Mr. OS," scientists are trying to answer the question of whether having a high bone mass is associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. In women, if you have a high bone mass, you have a higher risk of getting breast cancer. Both types of cancers are thought to be associated with your whole lifetime exposure to the sex hormones your own body makes.

NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is also supporting a part of "Mr. OS" that is looking at the role of sleep in the health of older men.

Men are more likely than women to have a high risk of fracture due to secondary causes, like a specific disease (such as celiac disease, in which a person's intolerance to a protein found in wheat and other grains interferes with their intestinal absorption of calcium) or taking medications that can affect bone mass (like the steroids used to treat asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases). Knowledge of the diseases and conditions that can affect bone mass can help to prevent men as well as women from reaching the point of fracture before diagnosis.

Getting enough calcium is very important for preventing osteoporosis. Adults 19 - 50 years old need 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium every day; those over 50 need 1,200 mg. The best way to get enough calcium is through your diet. Buy fortified orange juice and cereals, and eat lots of green leafy vegetables and low-fat dairy products like cheese, milk, ice cream and yogurt.

You should also get enough vitamin D. If you spend 15 minutes outside in the sun each day, your body should make enough on its own. If you have limited sun exposure, scientists currently recommend 200 to 400 international units (IU) if you are under age 70 and 600 if you are over.

It's also important to do regular weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, jogging, stair climbing, tennis, weight training and dancing. These exercises may strengthen your bones and may also help with your balance. That will reduce your risk of falling and thus reduce your chances of breaking a bone.

If you already have osteoporosis, doctors are prescribing most of the same medications that they are giving to women. Alendronate (brand name Fosamax) and risedronate (brand name Actonel) both now come in a once-a-week pill. But they can cause problems with your stomach or esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth with the stomach) if not taken exactly as directed. The Food and Drug Administration has approved teriparatide (brand name Forteo) only for those who are at high risk of fracture; the drug must be injected daily for no longer than two years. Be sure to talk with your doctor about your options.

Osteoporosis and African American Women

Osteoporosis is a metabolic bone disease characterized by low bone mass, which makes bones fragile and susceptible to fracture. Osteoporosis is known as a silent disease because symptoms and pain do not appear until a fracture occurs. Without prevention or treatment, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks, typically in the hip, spine, or wrist. A hip fracture can limit mobility and lead to a loss of independence, and vertebral fractures can result in a loss of height, stooped posture, and chronic pain.

Risk factors for developing osteoporosis include:
A thin, small-boned frame
Previous fracture or family history of osteoporotic fracture
Estrogen deficiency resulting from early menopause (before age 45), either naturally, from surgical removal of the ovaries, or as a result of prolonged amenorrhea (abnormal absence of menstruation) in younger women
Advanced age
A diet low in calcium
Caucasian and Asian ancestry (African American and Hispanic women are at lower but significant risk)
Cigarette smoking
Excessive use of alcohol
Prolonged use of certain medications, such as those used to treat lupus, asthma, thyroid deficiencies, and seizures.

Although African American women tend to have higher bone mineral density (BMD) than white women throughout life, they are still at significant risk of developing osteoporosis. The misperception that osteoporosis is only a concern for white women can delay prevention and treatment in African American women who do not believe they are at risk for the disease.

Many scientific studies highlight the risk that African American women face with regard to developing osteoporosis and fracture.

Osteoporosis is under-recognized and under-treated in African American women.

As African American women age, their risk for hip fracture doubles approximately every 7 years.

African American women are more likely than white women to die following a hip fracture.

Diseases more prevalent in the African American population, such as sickle cell anemia and lupus, can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.

African American women consume 50 percent less calcium than the Recommended Dietary Allowance. Adequate intake of calcium plays a crucial role in building bone mass and preventing bone loss.

As many as 75 percent of all African Americans are lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance can hinder optimal calcium intake. People with lactose intolerance often may avoid milk and other dairy products that are excellent sources of calcium because they have trouble digesting lactose, the primary sugar in milk.

Osteoporosis prevention begins in childhood. It is important to follow the recommendations listed below throughout life to lower your risk of osteoporosis. Eat a well-balanced diet adequate in calcium and vitamin D. Exercise regularly, with an emphasis on weight-bearing activities such as walking, jogging, dancing, and weight training. And live a healthy lifestyle. Avoid smoking and, if you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.

Talk to your doctor if you have a family history of osteoporosis or other risk factors that may put you at increased risk for the disease. Your doctor may suggest that you have your bone density measured to determine your risk for fractures (broken bones), and measure your response to osteoporosis treatment. The most widely recognized bone mineral density test is called a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, or DXA test. It is safe and painless, a bit like having an x ray, but with much less exposure to radiation. This test can measure bone density at your hip and spine.

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