The Bone Wars

Women & Health

Did you know that the frequency of annual incidence of osteoporosis fractures is greater than the total incidence of stroke, heart attack and breast cancer combined? Did you know that the Palmetto State dropped to 48th in annual state health rankings in recent data?

While education and awareness for women’s health issues is improving, little has been done regarding osteoporosis. The Alliance for Women and Procter & Gamble have joined the fight to raise awareness for a disease that has been largely quiet in this state for too long.

A little history…approximately 15 years ago, an entity known as the SC Osteoporosis Coalition was formed. The members introduced and sponsored the Osteoporosis Education and Screening Act and certainly others. They formed a statewide organization, provided advocacy and issued small educational mini-grants.

This organization of leaders fought a good fight 15 years ago. Some funding was available for a while, and the group was presented an award for Excellence in Community Health Education in the fall of 2000. But even though there was a strong foundation in place, funding dried up.

Around that time, it is estimated that osteoporosis caused nearly 15,000 bone fractures in South Carolinians at a cost of $159 million. Fast forward… Between now and 2025, the total medical cost of osteoporosis in South Carolina is expected to exceed $280 million.

Between now and the year 2010, the cumulative cost of osteoporosis nationally is projected to be $1.8 billion  —  mostly paid by Medicare and Medicaid.

Statistics from several sources, including the National Osteoporosis Foundation indicate:

  • This disease, which can strike at any age, is a major public health threat for an estimated 44 million Americans.
  • Of the 10 million Americans estimated to have the disease, eight million are women and two million are men.
  • 10-20% of those with hip fractures die within 6 months. Half cannot walk without aide, and a fourth requires long term care.

A few more startling statistics about South Carolina and its citizens:

  • The number of South Carolinians with this disease or low bone mass is expected to reach nearly 1 million in 2020, more than double in less than 20 years.
  • 89% of South Carolina’s osteoporosis costs occur in people 65 over older.
  • Nursing home stays account for 33% of total medical costs for osteoporosis in SC.

What can you do? According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the following steps can optimize bone health and help prevent the disease:

  • Get the daily recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D.
  • Engage in regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercise.
  • Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol.
  • Have a bone density test and take medication when appropriate
  • Check these websites to learn more – and

The Alliance for Women and Procter & Gamble are co-sponsoring a speaker series “Choices for Better Bone Health®.” The Choices program was developed by Deborah T. Gold, PhD; Barbara E. Miller, PhD; and Stuart L. Silverman, MD.

Choices Advisory Board Includes:

Stanley B. Cohen, MD
Cathy R. Kessenich, DSN, ARNP
Barbara P. Lukert, MD
Michael J. Maricic, MD
Betsy L. McClung, RN
Kathy M. Shipp, PT, MHS, PhD
Mima Siegel, PT
Ellen H. Silverman, OTR
Stanley Wallach, MD
Nelson B. Watts, MD
Collette L. Wong, BS

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