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Bone health after breast cancer

Posted Apr 22 2010 12:00am
I attended a session on Bone Health - informative for all women. It was done by a physiotherapist, a nutritionist and a pharmacist. It was on how to decrease your chances of developing Osteoporosis (a disease that makes bones thin and weak, meaning you are more susceptible to fractures).

We are done building our bone strength around age 18. We maintain it during our 20's, and start to slowly lose it in our mid-30's. Women start to lose it rapidly at menopause because of the drop in estrogen levels. There are lots of major and minor risk factors - but the one that stands out for cancer survivors is early menopause (before age 45, typically caused by chemo).

What to do? Make sure you are getting enough Calcium, Vitamin D and exercise. The amount varies depending on your age, but a post-menopausal woman should get 1500mg Calcium and 1000 IU's of Vitamin D each day.

Your body makes vitamin D when you are in the sun, but apparently you need your arms and legs exposed, no sunblock, for 5-20 minutes, between the hours of 10 and 2. Not many of us Canadians can do that year round. Most people need to take a mulit-vitamin or supplement to get enough.

The physiotherapist was there to tell us that physical activity helps to keep bones strong - both weight-bearing exercises like walking and running, and resistance/strength training like free weights and push-ups.

They didn't recommend any specific multi-vitamin, just had us all bring whatever we take so we could see how much was in it and think about how much we're getting in our food. My multi-vitamin has 400mg of calcium and 200 IU of Vitamin D. I drink 2 glasses of milk a day, but that still doesn't get me there. I'm going to look for a different multi-vitamin or take some extra calcium and vitamin D...
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