SPRINGFIELD – To bring awareness to what is often called the “silent disease,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold today encouraged Illinoisans to recognize May 10 as Osteoporosis Day in Illinois. Osteoporosis is a serious disease that occurs when the body loses more bone mass than it replaces, causing bones to become thin, brittle and easily broken. Osteoporosis is often called the “silent disease” because bone loss happens without symptoms and may not be detected until a fracture occurs.
“Many people think of osteoporosis as an older person’s disease, and while it does primarily affect older women, it can strike at any age,” said Dr. Arnold. “It is important for children to get calcium and vitamin D in their diets as 85-90 percent of bone mass is gained by age 18 for girls, and 20 for boys. Building strong bones during childhood and adolescences will help reduce the chances of developing osteoporosis later in life.”
Osteoporosis is a public health threat for an estimated 44 million Americans, or 55 percent of people 50 years of age and older, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF). In the U.S. today, 10 million individuals are estimated to already have osteoporosis and almost 34 million more are estimated to have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis.
In 2005, osteoporosis was responsible for more than two million fractures, costing an estimated $19 billion in direct care, according to NOF. It is estimated that by 2025, osteoporosis-related fractures are expected to cost approximately $25.3 billion in health costs.
Practicing the following five steps can help reduce the prevent osteoporosis:
• Get the daily recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D
• Engage in regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercise
• Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol
• Talk with your health care provider about bone health
• Have a bone density test and take medication when appropriate
Bone mineral density tests can identify osteoporosis and determine the risk for fractures before they occur.
Risk factors that can increase a person’s chances of developing osteoporosis include:
• Being female
• Older age
• Being small and thin
• Low calcium intake
• Low vitamin D intake
• Inactive lifestyle
• Alcohol abuse
• Family history of osteoporosis or broken bones
• Excessive intake of protein, sodium and caffeine
On March 11, 2010, House Joint Resolution 72, declaring May 10 as Osteoporosis Day in Illinois, passed both legislative chambers.
Rep. Mary Flowers (D) – Chicago, introduced the resolution. “Designating a day in Illinois to raise awareness about osteoporosis will help educate our communities about what they can do to build and maintain stronger bones. In the long run, this will help reduce health care costs and increase the quality of life for our citizens,” said Rep. Flowers.
Sen. Mattie Hunter (D) – Chicago, sponsored the resolution in the Senate. “Doctors note that one in two women, and one in four men will have an osteoporosis related fracture in their life. Declaring every May 10 Osteoporosis Day in Illinois, starting with today, we can stress the importance of bone health and osteoporosis prevention, including nutrition, lifestyle choices and exercise,” said Sen. Hunter.
The Illinois Department of Public Health encourages people of all ages to learn the risks of osteoporosis, how to prevent developing it and treatment options that can help prevent broken bones.