DAMON MAHARG: Denise McLaughlinis trying to preventosteoporosis.As a woman with a strong familyhistory of the condition,she knows she's at high risk.
DENISE MCLAUGHLIN: I havesomething called osteopenia,which means the calcium isa little low in my bones.But it's the stagebefore osteoporosis.
DR. ROBERTO PACIFICI: And that'sa period of time where the riskfor fractures is increased,but not dramatically.And that's actually a good timefor intervention.
DAMON MAHARG: Dr. RobertoPacifici is an experton osteoporosisand says there areseveral complex biologicalmechanisms that playa role in the growthand deterioration of our bones.
DR. ROBERTO PACIFICI:Among the most importantand most frequent are estrogendeficiency.
DAMON MAHARG: Following Dr.Pacifici's advice,Denise incorporates bonestrengthening routinesinto her lifestyle,such as taking proper amountsof vitamin D and calcium,and regular weight-bearingexercises.
DENISE MCLAUGHLIN: It was clearthat swimming wasn'tweight-bearing.Neither was bicycling.But that hoofing it up and downhills is, and doingfree weights.
DAMON MAHARG: The greatestbenefits can be gainedbefore age 25,while the skeleton is stilldeveloping--
COACH: And now we're going to godown into toe raises.
DAMON MAHARG: --and after age50, when our bodies most needshoring up.Anyone at risk should also limitexcessive drinking and smoking.
DR. ROBERTO PACIFICI: Smokingalters the metabolismof estrogen, basically loweringthe blood level of estrogenin women.
DAMON MAHARG: Osteoporosis isa major health threat for about44 million adult Americans.It's a condition that strikeswomen sooner and morefrequently,but can also affect men.
DR. ROBERTO PACIFICI:The difference is that mendevelop osteoporosis about 10or 15 years later than women.And you know, Denise, you havean excellent spacebetween your last riband the pelvic bone.And that indicatesthat your spine is notshortened.
DAMON MAHARG:Most FDA-approved treatmentsthese days work by inhibitingbone deterioration.Newer, more potent drugshold out the promiseof promoting bone growth.
DR. ROBERTO PACIFICI: Do youhave any discomfort or painwhile I do this?
DENISE MCLAUGHLIN: Nothingusual.
DAMON MAHARG: While thoseprovide significant helpto those at risk, researcherscontinue to searchfor the underlying causeof the disease.
DR. ROBERTO PACIFICI: What weknow is that there is notone single genefor osteoporosis.There are many, many genes thatwork together in controllingthe efficiencyof skeletal developmentand its maintenancethroughout life.
DAMON MAHARG: Until science isable to unravel the mysteriesof osteoporosis,the best defense is prevention.