Osteoporosis Campaign
Posted on Nov 16, 2011 05:55am

Dr. Maria Oquendo

"Break a leg!"

Traditional theater salutation

One may reasonably wonder how the Producers and Cast ­of the Broadway revival HAIR could be committed to the fight against Osteoporosis when they wish each other broken legs before each performance.
In fact, in theater parlance, the salutation usually means the exact opposite – by wishing someone a broken leg, you're wishing them good luck and healthy bones. There are exceptions: for example, if someone from the Broadway revival WEST SIDE STORY had wished someone from HAIR a broken leg after HAIR won the Tony for best revival, they might have meant it literally!

The terms "aging Hippie" or "aging baby boomers" almost seem like oxymorons... as if the 1960's had made and betrayed an implied promise of eternal youth. The generation that once reached for the acid now reaches for the antacid and has to confront an array of health issues.

Among these are Osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to become fragile and susceptible to fractures… a disease which causes half of all women and a quarter of all men to have fractures in their lifetime. These often have fatal consequences and at the very least cause severe pain and immobility.

The good news is that Osteoporosis is usually easily preventable. In fact, it's a lot easier to prevent than pronounce! And who better to reach aging Hippies and baby boomers than young Hippies… characters from a legendary musical who helped define the 1960's and have remained eternally young?

No matter what your age, we urge you to read the essay which follows by Dr. Joan McGowan of the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. The NIAMS is the foremost authority on bone health in the U.S. and Dr. McGowan was the Senior Scientific Editor for the landmark Surgeon General's report on Osteoporosis. As you'll see, there are easy lifestyle changes that can usually place you beyond the reach of this disease… after all, you want to be able to dance at Mick Jagger's 90th birthday concert don't you?

Kind regards,

CBS Cares

Dr. Joan A. McGowan, Ph.D. Essay

Forty years ago very little was known about osteoporosis, a disease that makes bones weak and prone to fracture. Back then, osteoporosis was considered to be just a normal consequence of aging, and was viewed solely as a "woman's disease." Few risk factors for the disease had been identified, and a limited number of options were available to diagnose and treat it.

But things are different today. We now know that osteoporosis is largely preventable and that strong bones are critical to our overall health and quality of life.

With appropriate nutrition and physical activity throughout life, individuals can significantly reduce their risk of osteoporosis. Specifically, a well-balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, weight-bearing activity, and a healthy lifestyle, can help keep bones strong. In addition, several treatments are now available that can reduce the likelihood of fracture in people at risk.

Over the past several decades, scientists have learned a significant amount about osteoporosis and bone health. Research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has greatly expanded our understanding of bone cell physiology, drug development, and risk factors for the disease. Nutrition and physical activity studies provide strong evidence that fractures can be prevented and bone loss reduced, even in older individuals. And we know now how preventing falls through exercise and simple home precautions can have a major impact on fracture prevention, even in those with frail bones.

Osteoporosis and related fractures have long been considered only to be a problem for older White women. This common misperception, shared by both the public and the medical profession alike, has undoubtedly delayed prevention and treatment in men and minorities who are not thought to be at risk for the disease. But we are learning more every day. NIH researchers are investigating factors leading to osteoporosis and fracture in minority women and men that will ultimately help target prevention strategies in these individuals.

Osteoporosis is often called a "pediatric disease with geriatric consequences." We know now that the bone mass attained in childhood and adolescence is an important determinant of lifelong skeletal health. The health habits our children are forming now can make, or literally break, their bones as they age. NIH scientists are identifying strategies that are yielding long-term skeletal benefits in our nation's children.

In the 1960s, the first-ever Surgeon General's report was released. Forty years later, the Surgeon General issued the first-ever report on our nation's bone health. In it, Vice Admiral Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H, F.A.C.S., warned that by 2020, half of all American citizens older than 50 will be at risk for fractures from osteoporosis and low bone mass if no immediate action is taken. As the Senior Scientific Editor of the Surgeon General's report, I will never tire of raising awareness about osteoporosis and related bone diseases.

I encourage you to become an active participant in your bone health. Please visit our Web site to learn more about osteoporosis and how to prevent and treat it. And remember, "You are never too old or too young to improve your bone health."

Joan A. McGowan, Ph.D.

Joan A. McGowan, Ph.D. - Biographical Sketch

Dr. McGowan is the Director of the Division of Musculoskeletal Diseases at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, leading a program of research on basic muscle and skeletal biology, orthopaedics, osteoarthritis, bioengineering, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, muscle physiology and muscle diseases, and, osteoporosis and related bone diseases.

Before joining NIH, Dr. McGowan was a faculty member at the Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. She received training at Cornell University (Master in Nutritional Science) and Brown University (Ph.D. in Biomedical Science).

Dr. McGowan has been very active in osteoporosis and women's health activities at NIH including serving as a Project Officer and osteoporosis expert in the Women's Health Initiative. Dr. McGowan has also served as a member of the Advisory Board of the Canadian Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis and serves on the Editorial Board of the journal Aging: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Dr. McGowan co-chairs the Federal Working Group on Bone Diseases whose members represent all of the U.S. federal agencies with activities in osteoporosis and related bone diseases. This group serves to develop and foster collaborative activities among the government agencies in bone diseases. She was the NIH organizer of a Consensus Development Conference on Optimal Calcium Intake in 1994 and one on Osteoporosis held in March, 2000. She is the Senior Scientific Editor of Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General published in October 2004.

Paul G. Rogers Dedication

This project is dedicated to the Honorable Paul G. Rogers, who passed away in 2009. Congressman Rogers dedicated his life to improving healthcare for all Americans – and no cause was more important to him than Osteoporosis Prevention. At the 2005 annual dinner of the National Osteoporosis Foundation, CBS Cares was honored to receive the Paul G. Rogers Leadership Award from Congressman Rogers personally.

Special Thanks

The CBS Cares Team wishes to thank our partners who contributed so much to this campaign
(in alphabetical order):

The HAIR Tribe: Allison Case, Jenny Gersten, Chasten Harmon, Nancy Harrington, Kaitlin Kiyan, Elizabeth McCann, Darius Nichols, Joey Parnes, Megan Reinking, and Bryce Ryness

The NIH Tribe: Marin Allen, Janet Austin, John Burklow, Kelli Carrington, Dr. Joan McGowan, and Trish Reynolds