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Reversing Osteopenia    by Harris H. McIlwain & Debra Fulghum Bruce order for
Reversing Osteopenia
by Harris H. McIlwain
Order:  USA  Can
Owl, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Reversing Osteopenia emphasizes prevention, its goals to show us 'how osteopenia can easily be diagnosed and reversed', to prevent that first fracture (costly in many ways, including loss of independence), and to tell us how to optimize bone strength at any stage of life.

Case studies show that bone thinning happens to the young - made vulnerable by low body weight, smoking, excessive drinking, early menopause, etc. - as well as to older men and women. The authors introduce us to the 'Bone Cycle', in which the balance between 'Bone Loss' and 'Bone Building' shifts through life, and tell us how to determine our own bone health. They explain bone density tests like DEXA ('Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry') and the 'heel sonogram' test. And they tell us what to do to strengthen our bones (including '8 Kid-Friendly Bone-Building Tips'). Of course, exercise is a big factor - both weight-bearing and strength training (resistance) exercises. The authors give us many choices from walking and gardening to yoga, tai chi, and hiking, as well as age-specific recommendations. They quote recent studies that show that 'lifting 25 pounds ten times may be more effective in stimulating bone than lifting 5 pounds fifty times'. There's a section at the end with instructions and diagrams for specific 'Bone-Building Exercises'.

A chapter on 'Feed Your Bones' covers sources for dietary requirements for calcium, vitamins, minerals, phytoestrogens and flavonoids. Content includes specific advice for vegetarians, as well as a 'Just Say No to Cola' sidebar. A four-week calendar lists daily 'Bone-Strengthening Suggestions', referring to close to forty pages of appetizing recipes at the back (I especially like the look of 'Hearty Vegetable Spread' and 'Fried Bananas'). There's specific advice for those with risk factors, including the 'Female Athlete Triad' of osteopenia, amenorrhea and eating disorders. A handy section tells how to 'fall-proof' your home, and lists medications that can increase the risk of falling. A later sidebar suggests use of 'Hip Protectors' for those unsteady on their feet. HRT is covered, as is the decision on whether or not to treat bone loss with medication. Fractures and their surgical management are discussed, including new 'minimally invasive procedures' - vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty.

Reversing Osteopenia is a comprehensive guide, which will be valuable to anyone concerned about the potential of a fracture in their future, unfortunately a high percentage of the population.

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