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Raising Bone Mineral Density Without HRT

Straight Talk on Preventing Bone Loss After Menopause

Know your T-Score continued...

That's why, the best protection against osteoporosis is to know your risk. The most comprehensive test for bone mineral density is called a DEXA scan. It measures the bone mass at the spine and the hip in five to 10 minutes, Sirus says.

By knowing your bone mineral density, you can predict your risk of future bone fractures.

Your bone mineral density is given as a T-score. The World Health Organization defines a T-score above -1.0 as normal, and if you have a T-score of -2.5 or less, you have osteoporosis.

"It compares postmenopausal bone density to that of a young adult with peak bone mass, and if you are within 10% of the healthy young normal population, your bone mineral is considered normal," she says.

Currently, the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that all postmenopausal women older than age 65 should get a bone mineral density test, as should women aged 60 to 64 with at least one risk factor for low bone mass, such as prior broken bones, family history of osteoporosis, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, or low body weight.

Depending on the results of the test, your doctor can prescribe one of several drugs including Fosamax, Actonel, Evista, the nasal spray Miacalcin, and the newest drug on the block, Forteo, an injectable form of human parathyroid hormone.

But if your test shows that bone loss has not occurred, lifestyle changes can help keep bones strong. A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, regular weight-bearing exercise, no smoking, and limited alcohol intake help stave off bone loss.

The bottom line? "Women need to consult their doctor regarding their risk for bone loss and know that there are hormone-free options to prevent and treat osteoporosis," says Donnica Moore, MD, a Neshanic Station, N.J., women's health expert and president of DrDonnica.com.

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