The Other I

January 31, 2011

The sunshine option

Filed under: Growing Old,Osteoporosis,Uncategorized — theotheri @ 9:40 pm
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I have a bone density scan scheduled for the middle of next week.  Three years ago, the scan showed that I had managed through a change in life style alone to stop bone loss in its tracks and possibly even begun to reverse the process.  So I am now extremely eager to see if the process has continued.  Particularly since I declined in the first place to treat the problem by taking bi-phosphonates despite the strongest recommendation of several MD’s familiar with the problem.  I had two particular reasons:

The first was the fact that, although bi-phosphonates increased bone density, they often did not reduce the incidence of bone fracture, which is the main point of the treatment.

The second reason was that after doing a fair amount of reading on the subject, it occurred to me that I had come close to creating a perfect storm for the occurrence of bone density loss:

We had moved from Spain to the north of England.  Although we kept walking in the hills of the Lake District two or three times a week at first, often for as long as four hours at a time, foot-in-mouth disease closed the trails within a year after our arrival.  So I retreated to my computer and spent an average of six hours a day writing a book.  And when I did go out, I covered myself from head to foot to protect myself from feeling cold.  So both my daily exercise and sunshine quotients were dangerously low.

Then I read that peanut butter was a highly recommended low GI food that is an excellent way of keeping one’s blood sugar levels steady.  So I began to eat it every day, and even developed a craving for it.  What I didn’t know was that it was packed full of oxalic acid that interferes with calcium absorption.

Not that I was getting much calcium anyway, since I was not taking any vitamin or mineral supplements.

What more could I possibly have done to speed up my bone loss?  I wasn’t exercising, I wasn’t taking any supplements, I wasn’t making any vitamin D through exposure to the sun, I was eating foods that positively interfere with calcium absorption.  Oh, and I was probably drinking too much coffee.

So six years ago I started on a new regime.  If the bone density report, which I probably won’t get until March, continues the positive trend of three years ago, I will itemize what I think are the most important variables contributing to my bone health.

If the report shows a deterioration, I don’t know what I will do.  The Federal Drug Administration in the U.S. reported several months ago what I suspected years ago – that bi-phosphonates sometimes seem to increase rather than decrease bone brittleness and subsequent fractures.

In the meantime, I am continuing to take large enough doses of Vitamin D to scandalize my GP but which are not into the overdose quotients.

Apparently vitamin D not only helps maintain bone density, it also is implicated in reduced levels of many kinds of cancer, memory loss, and heart disease.

So along with my bottle of virgin olive oil and an apple a day, I might live forever.

Well, maybe for another decade or two.  If I’m seriously lucky.

Or not.

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6 Comments »

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I am interested to hear how your next bone scan goes. Thanks for for information on peanut butter, I didn’t know. My doctor in The United States of America has me take a bone scan every year. Thankfully my insurance will pay for it.

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    Comment by chrisincolorado — February 10, 2011 @ 5:06 pm | Reply

    • Thank you for staying in touch. By coincidence, I have just had a bone density scan today. It’s not a high-priority item at the hospital, so it will be 4-5 weeks before I get any detailed feedback. I will certainly post the results. They are bound to be somewhere in between my expectations – which veer between dreadful and fabulous.

      My doctor in the United States (who was the first to recommend a a scan) told me that scans taken more than every three years aren’t sensitive enough to provide any meaningful information. However, if my insurance paid for it, I doubt I would voluntarily wait that long.

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      Comment by theotheri — February 10, 2011 @ 5:36 pm | Reply

  2. You have to wait weeks to find out the reuslts? WOW I see my doctor right after my scan and then I get my results. I wonder if it an American thing or because of the type of scan. It is probably becasue the doctor’s office has a scan machine in their building and I don’t have to go to a hopital for the scan. My last scan told me that I had stayed abou the same. Which is good – not getting any worse.

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    Comment by chrisincolorado — February 12, 2011 @ 12:21 am | Reply

    • Great news from your last scan. It’s what I’m hoping for as well.

      Yes, waiting for weeks to get the results is quite different from my US experience as well. Over here if it were something I considered urgent and there was a distressing delay, I would go private. We do have private insurance to supplement the National Health Service, so in some ways we have the best of both worlds. Especially since medical insurance is a great deal less expensive over here.

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      Comment by theotheri — February 12, 2011 @ 3:50 pm | Reply

  3. I am also interested in hearing about your scan since I am also now eating more alkaline-forming food and following the recommendations of Vivian Goldschmidt. I hope your scan is fabulous! It’s a career just sorting through the jungle of information, misinformation, hipe and propaganda out there, and you/we should get at least some reward for our efforts: Just a few points the right way on the T-scores! Good luck!

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    Comment by missfootloose — February 16, 2011 @ 9:06 pm | Reply

    • Thank you for the good wishes. Whatever I learn about the scan results in the next 3-4 weeks, I will post it, no doubt within hours. My last scan three years ago showed a small improvement. I will consider it a victory if I am just holding steady now however.

      Yes, it is a career just separating the hype from the believable. The more I learn, though, the more sceptical I am getting about bi-phosphonates.

      And best wishes to you too. When/if you learn anything more, I hope you will share it. I know I’d be grateful.

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      Comment by theotheri — February 16, 2011 @ 9:46 pm | Reply


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