Speech to the National Osteoporosis Foundation and Society

Thank you to the National Osteoporosis Foundation and the Society for Women’s Health Research for putting together this event today and to Sally Field for her efforts to bring greater awareness to osteoporosis issues. I would like to thank you all for being here today and spending time in DC, for many of you away from your homes and your families to serve as advocates for bone health and osteoporosis prevention.  The National Osteoporosis Foundation theme for 2007 is “Osteoporosis. It's Beatable. It's Treatable" – I wish this could be the theme for all diseases; fortunately osteoporosis is one that can be beat which is why we must do all we can to raise awareness for prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and low bone mass.

There are a lot of myths about osteoporosis – One that I’m sure you’ve heard is that this disease only affects women, but the truth is both men and women suffer from low bone mass and bone deterioration. 10 million Americans are estimated to have osteoporosis – 8 million women and 2 million men and almost 34 million Americans are estimated to suffer from low bone mass placing them at risk of this disease. Osteoporosis and low bone mass affect nearly 73,000 men and women aged 50 and older in my state of Alaska. Since this disease occurs without symptoms, people may not know they have it until their bones become so weak that a bump, fall or even a strain can result in a serious fracture. In 2002, the inpatient, nursing home, and outpatient medical treatment costs of osteoporosis fractures in the U.S. was estimated at $18 billion dollars.

We must do everything possible to ensure that fewer people suffer from this disease – a disease that is beatable and treatable. There are some risk factors we simply can’t control - being female, advanced age, having a small frame - but there are many that we can - and the message of getting tested and encouraging a healthy diet to prevent low bone mass and osteoporosis is what you all can share with your Senators and Representatives today.

I want to thank the National Osteoporosis Foundation and the Society for Women’s Health Research for this event. I commend you for your work and your efforts to prevent the spread of osteoporosis. Thank you again for all you are doing to help fight this silent disease.