SOURCE: iVillage

October 17, 2005 07:00 ET

Bone Diva Calendar Girls Spur Others to Battle Osteoporosis

NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- October 17, 2005 -- They're fit, over 55, and fabulous. They are the "Bone Divas," 13 dynamic women who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia and are striking a pose in a free 2006 calendar making its debut online today on iVillage to encourage other women to take better care of their bones.

"Our goal is to inspire other women to get in touch with their 'Inner Diva' in order to find strength to manage their disease and live life to the fullest," said Ginger La Motta, 62, of Branchburg, N.J., who is featured as Ms. April in the calendar. "Since osteoporosis can go unnoticed until you break a bone, we need to encourage women to do the right things so they can stay healthy and active."

This week marks World Osteoporosis Day (Oct. 20), established to raise awareness and educate the public about the importance of preventing and treating osteoporosis to preserve bone health. Osteoporosis is often known as a "silent disease" as it can progress without obvious symptoms but eventually can result in fractures which can cause severe pain, deformity, disability, hospitalization -- even death.(1) Faced with no immediate symptoms, half to almost two-thirds of women quit their osteoporosis medication within one year.(2)

Ginger and her calendar mates are among an estimated 10 million Americans diagnosed with osteoporosis, 8 million of whom are women. There are an estimated 34 million more with osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis.(1) The Bone Divas were selected based on their drive to manage their disease and continue leading active lives. Vibrant and energetic, the Bone Divas include a wilderness hiker, Alpine and Nordic skiers, a distance walker and an international flight attendant -- all age 57 to 78.

Stunning images of the women boldly draped in brilliant cloth were taken by Joyce Tenneson, celebrated photographer and author of "Wise Women," whose work appears on the covers of Time, Newsweek and The New York Times Magazine. "These women have the spirit and drive to rival people years their junior, yet with osteoporosis they have the potential to literally be held captive by their own bodies," Tenneson said. "I have photographed lots of women (over the years) who have had problems with osteoporosis, and it's so wonderful to be involved in a project that actually is getting the word out that people with this disease don't have to be victims -- if they manage their disease properly."

The 2006 Bone Divas Calendar is debuting online on iVillage with support and assistance from Roche and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). iVillage is the number one source for women's content and community online and currently features an intimate look at living with osteoporosis. To request the free calendar, learn more about the Bone Divas and obtain osteoporosis information and management tips, go to: www.ivillage.com/bonedivas or call 800-426-6482.

"It's every woman's responsibility to take care of her health, sometimes with a little inspiration from friends like the Bone Divas," said Nicole Stagg, Vice President of iVillage Health & Beauty.

Tips for Better Bone Health

Below are five important tips for your battle against osteoporosis and osteopenia, the precursor to osteoporosis. It's important to follow all the tips. Eliminating any one of them can significantly affect your success.

--  Visit your doctor regularly. Work with your doctor to monitor your
    osteoporosis and bone mineral density (BMD), as well as your overall
    health. It's important to evaluate the steps being taken to maintain the
    health of your bones and to decide what treatment is right for you.
    
--  Get your daily recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D. If you
    are over 50 years of age and female, studies suggest you should have 1,200
    mg of calcium and 400-600 IU of vitamin D through diet and/or supplements.
    Your body can best handle about 500 mg of calcium at any one time, whether
    from food or supplements. Therefore, consume your calcium-rich foods and/or
    supplements in smaller doses throughout the day, preferably with a meal.(3)
    
--  Exercise. Bones generally become stronger and denser when you place
    demands on them. Lack of exercise, especially as you get older, can
    contribute to lower bone mass or density. Two types of exercise are
    important for women with osteoporosis: 1) weight-bearing exercise (e.g.,
    walking, stair climbing and dancing) and 2) resistance exercise (e.g., use
    of free weights or weight machines). These can help maintain bone health
    and prevent further bone loss. Exercise can also reduce your risk of
    falling by improving balance, flexibility and strength. Talk to your doctor
    about a safe, effective exercise program to best meet your needs.(3)
    
--  Take your medication. Medicine can be a key factor in protecting bone
    health in women with osteoporosis. Prescription medications that can be
    taken less frequently are available that can build and maintain bone
    density and reduce the risk of fracture. But no medicine can work if you
    don't take it. So fill your prescription, take it properly and continue
    taking it -- as directed.
    
--  Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol. Smoking has been shown to
    interfere with the way your body uses calcium to help bones. Excessive
    alcohol can also reduce bone mass and increase the risk of fracture.(3) If
    you want to consume alcohol, it should be limited to one drink or less a
    day (for women) -- or 12 oz. of regular beer, 5 oz. of wine, or 1 1/2 oz.
    of 80-proof liquor.(4)
    

About iVillage

iVillage is "the Internet for women" and consists of several online and offline media-based properties that seek to enrich the lives of women, teenage girls and parents through the offering of unique content, community applications, tools and interactive features. iVillage Inc. (NASDAQ: IVIL) was established in 1995 and is headquartered in New York City.

Editors' Note: Photos are available via the Associated Press Photo Network and on the Internet at Feature Photo Service's link through http://www.newscom.com.

(1) America's Bone Health: The State of Osteoporosis and Low Bone Mass in Our Nation. The National Osteoporosis Foundation: February 2002; p.1,6.

(2) Data on file from an October 2002-2003 study of prescription data of women with osteoporosis. (Ref. 161-011), Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., Nutley, NJ.

(3) Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General; 2004.

(4) You're In Charge: Your Guide to Good Health After Menopause. Alliance for Aging Research; July 1999.

Contact Information

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