When Should You be Tested for Bone Loss?

Pam Flores @phflores Health Guide
  • Recently, we heard about Gwyneth Paltrows' diagnosis of osteopenia; this news put another spotlight on the benefits of early detection for osteoporosis and osteopenia.


    According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), women should have a DXA (bone density scan) by age 65 and men at the age of 70.  The NOF goes on to further explain their recommendations by saying that if you have one of the many primary or secondary causes for bone loss or are taking one of the medications that can cause this, that would be a reason to test a patient earlier.  If you take a good look at all the secondary and medication causes, you'll see just how many people could be affected by this since many of these are really quite common.  One example is prednisone.  If you've taken this every day for three months, that's considered long-term use and long-term corticosteroid use is the number one medication cause for bone loss.  If you are concerned about possible bone loss, you can have a test called a DXA, and most insurances pay for it if you have a primary or secondary cause or take a medication that causes bone loss, regardless of age. 

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    We don't know how Ms Paltrow got osteopenia, but what matters is treating it now that she knows about it.  We do have to worry about low vitamin D levels, fad diets, and over-exercising since all of these can cause bone loss.  When you starve your body of certain nutrients or exercise in excess, you can end up on a downward spiral towards bone loss.  Also, having children can deplete calcium and vitamin D, if you aren't taking enough for both yourself and your unborn baby.  Lactation-induced osteoporosis is another form of bone loss that has been with us for years.  Osteoporosis is no longer an old ladies disease, and it hasn't been for a long time with conditions like juvenile, idiopathic juvenile osteoporosis and other bone disorder seen in children, at birth, in the teenage years and young adulthood.  Young children should start early on the road to good bone health by getting enough dietary calcium, vitamin D and weight-bearing exercises. 


    We should all learn something from this story and get a DXA scan early if you have any of the risk factors for bone loss or if you are taking any of the medications that cause this.


    I hope Gwyneth can improve her vitamin D and calcium levels and get into a weight-bearing exercise routine that isn't to excessive in nature.  This story should help all the young individuals to re-think their lifestyles and get early detection, so they can do something about bone loss before it's too late.


    We know that no one wants to have bone loss, so let's work to detect it early, instead of waiting to our elder years. We need to educate and advocate for ourselves, and hopefully some day eradicate this disorder entirely, with the use of early detection, healthy diet and lifestyle, bone vitamins and a good weight-bearing exercise routine.  Just remember you can have a DXA, at any age, if you have any of the primary or secondary causes for bone loss, so don't wait to do this, you'll thank yourself later.  Also, your children may inherit this tendency, so start them on the right routines for building bone in their early years by visiting the web sites below for children and bone health.


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    Osteoporosis prevention resources for children:


    Best Bone Forever web site from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


    Bones 4 Life from the National Osteoporosis Society in the UK.





Published On: July 05, 2010