SHONNI SILVERBERG, MD: Unfortunately, it is possible to do all the right things and still have osteoporosis. A huge component that goes into our peak bone mass is our genetic makeup, and therefore, even if one does all the right things -- eat healthily, exercise regularly, does everything that you're supposed -- if your mother and your grandmother and your siblings have had osteoporosis, you are at extremely high risk.
FEMALE SPEAKER: My mother has severe osteoporosis, and my sister was just diagnosed with osteoporosis, so I'm doing everything I can to prevent it. I'm exercising, I'm eating right, and I'm just trying to stay health.
ANNOUNCE: Anyone can develop osteoporosis. Over 28 million men and women have the condition, and nearly half of all women over the age of 50 will be touched by it in their lifetimes.
SHONNI SILVERBERG, MD: Men and women both begin to lose bone at some period after having achieved peak bone mass. Women begin to lose quickly at around the time of menopause, and may lose between 5 to 7% of their bone mass each year. Men also begin to lose it around the same time, but much more slowly -- only about 1 to 2% per year.
ANNOUNCE: We lose that much bone mass, and yet it often happens without warning.
SHONNI SILVERBERG, MD: Initially, there are no clinical consequences, and actually what happens is that one's bone density can go down for a while with virtually no signs or symptoms. Osteoporosis is called a silent epidemic just because of that. Eventually, though, the bone density can become so low that people can start to fracture in the absence of trauma.
CECILIA JOHNSON: I came to discover I had osteoporosis almost by accident. I was at the Leahy Clinic and the endocrinologist I was seeing noticed that I had very rounded shoulders -- not quite the dowager's hump, but I was getting there.
ANNOUNCE: But while osteoporosis is a silent disease, it is also treatable and preventable. If caught at its early stages, there is much that can be done.
SHONNI SILVERBERG, MD: It's very important to have a diet that is adequate in calcium, and the amount of calcium that is required depends on your age. It is also important to have an adequate amount of vitamin D and to exercise regularly.