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Reversing Osteopenia
The Definitive Guide to Recognizing and Treating Early Bone Loss in Women of All Ages

by Harris McIlwain, M.D. and Debra Fulghum Bruce, PhD.
2004

Osteoporosis is a frightening word — it brings to mind images of hip fractures, dowager's hump and nursing homes. Nobody wants an infirm old age. But what most women (and men) don't realize is that osteopenia — the precursor to osteoporosis — is an even more insidious and dangerous disease. While the majority of osteoporosis sufferers are postmenopausal, those with osteopenia can be young and athletic — seemingly the picture of health. Bone loss can start early on in life, and those who smoke, weigh less than 127 pounds and who don't get enough calcium in their diet may be on the road to a bone fracture even before they get close to retirement age. That's the bad news; the good news is that for most people, early bone loss can be prevented with a few simple lifestyle changes. Reversing Osteopenia addresses these issues and offers direction to those who are concerned about keeping their bones strong and healthy.

One of the most striking aspects of this book is that you'll find short profiles of real-life patients who author McIlwain has encountered — a 26-year-old vegan with rheumatoid arthritis; a 36-year-old mother who opted not to have HRT after her hysterectomy; a thin, 43-year-old smoker who is allergic to dairy but who exercises regularly. These three are just a few of the younger women who were surprised to discover that they had osteopenia. But they were able to control it in a variety of sensible ways: including sufficient calcium and bone-building minerals in their diet, following a moderate, strength-building exercise program, quitting smoking and being prescribed appropriate medication, to name a few.

Because this book was written by a rheumatologist who is also chairman of the Florida Osteoporosis Board, the advice in this book is conservative. You won't find recommendations for unproven herbal remedies or quick fixes that drain the pocketbook without producing results. And the truth is that the tools to fight osteopenia already exist, and there is much valuable research available. This book gives a great overview on how to lessen the risk of developing osteopenia (and if you're a guy, don't think you're off the hook — 30 % of those at risk for low bone mass are men). In addition to information on supplements, diet, diagnosis and medical intervention, the book also offers a chapter of bone-building recipes and another one on exercises and stretches. Some of the information you probably know already (who doesn't realize that smoking is bad for you?) but some will shock you (did you realize that you're only getting 200 milligrams of calcium from that 600 milligram supplement you've been taking?). This book is for anyone who wants to have healthy bones for a lifetime, and that pretty much includes everybody.

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