Monday, September 14, 2009

bone loss: a public service announcement

I have been reading Cancer Fitness by Anna L. Scharwtz. I'm only a few chapters in, but the book has already taught me some important things.

I don't tend to devote a lot of thought to preventing bone loss but I did know that regular weight-bearing exercise helps prevent bone loss and to build strong bones. And while I walk and run (just finished the Running Room's beginner program again), I really don't do any strength training (or core work, for that matter, despite repeated promises to myself).

The women in my family tend to have strong bones (and good bone density) but what I didn't realize was how many factors put me at risk:

  • early menopause, as a result of chemotherapy.

  • doxorubicin (Adriamycin, the infamous "red devil). I had 6 rounds (this is also the drug that temporarily damaged my heart).

  • decadron and other steroids (I had higher doses with the first 6 rounds of chemo but I still get decadron through IV with every chemo treatment, to help mitigate side effects).

  • lorazepam (Ativan, which I use only occasionally for insomnia. I had absolutely no idea that it caused bone loss)

  • regular consumption of caffeine.

And I don't drink very much milk, either.

Remember, that promise to myself I made in January? Well, I have not made as much progress as I would like. So, I signed up for a fitness class at my local community centre that incorporates core work and strength training (since the free weights, stability ball and exercise bands don't seem to be doing much more than collecting dust) to get myself started. Now, I have another reason to get to it.

I also took a calcium supplement today for the first time in months. Those suckers are horse pills but I think I need to get back into the habit of choking them down.

What are you doing to prevent bone loss?


Nat said...

My grandmother had osteoporosis... I saw her shrivel up. That being said, I still don't pay my bones nearly as much attention as I should.

Thanks for the reminder.

sassymonkey said...

I was taking a calcium supplement at breakfast but I found it was making me queasy. I keep meaning to move them into the dinner rotation but I forget. Even though we don't have a history of bone loss in my family my former family doctor was concerned due to my small frame. She wanted me to do calcium supplements and weight-bearing exercises. I do neither. Whoops.

Dee said...

My doctor has me on zometa, which strengthens your bones and prevents cancer from metastasizing there. I ended up with calcium deposits in my bone marrow - and they suspect that cancer cell clusters were there and the body tries to seal it off with calcium. Zometa is a monthly injection that works on the bones "to make them more like granite rather than sandstone". It makes it harder for cancer to lodge on the bone itself. I don't know, however, if it helps with bone density or bone loss. I assume it does . . . but a good question to ask my doc.

northerngurl said...

I started doing strength training and taking a calcium supplement at night. I haven't had a glass of milk in 18 years (not kidding). I also had a bone density test done.

Rebecca said...

Laurie, I think Herceptin also causes a little bone loss. We're all doomed!!

I'm just anticipating the cancer taking me out before I reach hunched over old age.

Princess Tinybutt said...

hi laurie!

oh yes! boy or boy do i know about this, unfortunately.... two hip replacements later, with possible pending shoulder and knee replacements on the horizon. all thanks to the very same things/drugs you've listed. yes, the disease is in my bones, but the drugs got to them first.

thanks so much for the 'notice' my friend... i've missed you.


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