National Women’s Health Week: Osteoporosis - preventing a disease with roots in adolescence

  • Published
  • By Maj. Kirsten Benford and Maj. Michelle Hedrick
  • 82nd Medical Group
National Women's Health Week is sponsored by various organizations to raise awareness in women's health issues.

All women are encouraged to make good health a priority during this eighth annual observance starting on Mother's Day, 13 May and ending 19 May.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has designated May 14th as National Women's Check-Up Day. Rather than making medical appointments for loved ones, it's recommended that this be the day women make important health screening appointments for themselves.

HHS also offers a guide for women, "A Lifetime of Good Health: Your Guide to Staying Healthy." The guide describes preventive screenings and discusses important women's health topics.

The 82nd Medical Group, offers several essential screening examinations to include mammograms, Pap screens, colonoscopies, cholesterol, blood pressure and osteoporosis screening. Although notices are sent out periodically to individuals needing mammograms and Pap screens, we count on women to visit us annually or biannually for these exams.

During a wellness visit, the primary care manager can identify women who are high risk for osteoporosis and other conditions.

Osteoporosis is a condition that means your bones are weak and more likely to break. There are no symptoms to let you know your bones are progressively getting weaker until you break a bone.

In a 2005 Web site article, the National Osteoporosis Foundation warned of the risk of osteoporosis as a major public health threat for 44 million Americans. Although, 80 percent of those diagnosed are women, it affects men and women usually age 50 years and older.

Osteoporosis-related fractures occur in 40 percent of women in this age group. Risk factors include family history, increased age, and small body frame. Common effects of bone weakness are spinal and hip fractures that lead to chronic pain and disability.

To prevent bone loss and osteoporosis, it is necessary to build strong bones during childhood and adolescence. Unfortunately, it is during adolescence that teens drink less milk in favor of carbonated sodas, power drinks and flavored waters.

Lifestyle choices that can decrease the risk of developing osteoporosis include: eating a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, performing weight bearing exercise, and avoiding cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol intake. Foods rich in calcium are: milk, dairy products (cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese), fish, and green leafy vegetables. Many other foods are fortified with calcium and vitamin D which help build strong bones. Women over age 50 are also encouraged to increase calcium intake with supplements.

For more information on women's health week and osteoporosis, go to the following: or or contact your primary care manager for a wellness appointment. The 82nd MDG would like to encourage all women to "Pamper Your Mind, Body and Spirit" during the National Women's Health Week.