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    Sally Field: An Osteoporosis Story

    The actress known for playing strong women tells of her battle against a bone-thinning disease.

    Getting Treated continued...

    After talking with her doctor she chose to treat her osteoporosis with the new once-monthly medication Boniva -- a drug that works to slow bone loss, so the body's natural bone production can pull ahead.

    Later, when approached by the makers of Boniva (Roche and GlaxoSmithKline) to spearhead an awareness campaign about osteoporosis, she jumped at the opportunity. Roche and GlaxoSmithKline are also WebMD sponsors.

    "At first I was nervous. I thought, this is a big pill -- and I worried something bad would happen," says Field. Indeed, side effects to Boniva can include stomach upset, muscle pain, even ulcersulcers.

    Still, when she weighed her fears against what could happen if she didn't take charge, she says the medicine won.

    People at Risk

    Today Field says she's happy and relieved to be well on her way back to good bone health. But she also says this is not a journey she wants to take alone.

    "AgingAging successfully isn't just about looking good, it's about having a good solid feeling about your health and yourself as a healthy person," says Field, who is asking women to take action by talking to their doctors and joining her in a commitment to better bone health.

    According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) Field's audience will be vast: Some 10 million women are already diagnosed with osteoporosis, with another 34 million at risk. Though men can develop this condition, they account for less than 20% of diagnosed cases.

    In addition to gender, NOF says other risk factors include advancing age, heredity, having a small, thin, frame, low estrogen levels, and a lifetime of low calcium and vitamin D intake. Heavy use of alcohol and cigarettes, alone or in combination with an inactive lifestyle, also play a role.

    Treatment Options

    While Boniva is the newest treatment for bone health, Goldstein says a variety of medications work equally well. These include Fosamax and Actonel, medications similar to Boniva, as well as Evista, a treatment that works like estrogen but does not affect the uterus or breast.

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