Osteoporosis; Women's Health; Scientific American Presents; by Hede, McDonnell, Lindsay; 4 Page(s)
It's hard to envision a thin, athletic woman as a hip fracture victim waiting to happen. Unfortunately, research shows that women athletes who often diet and don't get enough calcium have among the highest risks for developing osteoporosis when they reach their 50s and 60s. Some young female athletes are also at risk because they lose so much body fat that they stop having their menstrual periods, which lowers their estrogen levels and leads to bone loss. Osteoporosis is characterized by decreased bone mass and an increased risk of broken bones. According to the U.S. National Osteoporosis Foundation, more than 28 million people in the U.S. are at high risk of developing the potentially crippling disorder-and most of them are women. That figure is predicted to jump to 41 million by 2015, when women in the baby boom generation will be beyond menopause.
KARYN HEDE, special correspondent for SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, discusses what women should know about osteoporosis with DONALD P. MCDONNELL, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology and cancer biology at Duke University Medical Center, and ROBERT LINDSAY, M.B.-Ch.B., Ph.D., chief of internal medicine at Helen Hayes Hospital in West Haverstraw, N.Y. McDonnell's research focuses on a new class of compounds called selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), which offer hope for preventing and treating osteoporosis without the side effects of estrogen. Lindsay is founding director of the metabolic bone disease unit at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City and is the author of over 200 publications on osteoporosis and estrogen replacement therapy.