Upstate News

February 28, 1999
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

State Health Department Awards SUNY Health Science Center $60,000 to Launch Osteoporosis Prevention and Education Program

The State University of New York Health Science Center at Syracuse has received a $60,000 grant from the New York State Health Department to serve as a regional center for the New York State Osteoporosis Prevention and Education Program (NYSOPEP). In partnership with the Onondaga County Health Department, the Health Science Center will conduct outreach campaigns to educate the general public, develop and distribute educational materials and provide training to health care professionals on the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.

Arnold Moses, M.D., professor of medicine at the SUNY Health Science Center who will serve as the director of the regional office, said the office’s programming will primarily target three groups: females in their 20s; lay individuals at wellness centers and employee groups, such as employee assistance programs; and nurses and other staff members at medical offices, managed care organizations and health clinics.

“Anyone who has an opportunity to talk to women about their health and lifestyle is in a position to offer some sound advice on preventing osteoporosis,” Dr. Moses said. “It’s especially important that young women hear our message, because it’s the lifestyle one leads in their younger years that influences the severity of the disease later in life.”

Most people with osteoporosis are women but it can be a significant problem in men, he said. Ostoeporosis is a disease that causes bones to become thin and break. In people with osteoporosis, bone loss typically progresses for decades until severe disability, most commonly from spine and hip fractures, occurs. Ten million Americans suffer from osteoporosis and 18 million more are at risk of developing the disease. It is estimated that Americans spend more than $13 billion annually to treat osteoporotic fractures.

To help prevent osteoporosis, Dr. Moses suggests that everyone, particularly women: take between 1,200 and 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day from all sources, 400 to 800 units of vitamin D, do weight-bearing exercises to build strong bones, and refrain from smoking. (Smoking hinders the body’s ability to absorb calcium).

The State Health Department also has funded regional NYSOPEP offices at the Hospital for Special Surgery, New York City; Catholic Health Systems, Buffalo; University Hospital at SUNY Stony Brook, and the New York State Chapter of the National Osteoporosis Foundation. The activities of the funded centers will be coordinated through Helen Hayes Hospital in Rockland County.

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