SPRINGFIELD — Women’s Health Associates, a specialized women’s healthcare practice providing obstetrical and gynecological care in Springfield and Westfield, is urging patients to take steps to improve their health during the 16th annual National Women’s Health Week, which kicks off on Mother’s Day, May 10, and runs through Saturday, May 16.
National Women’s Health Week is an observance led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health. Additionally, May has been designated National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month by the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
“Women should always strive to improve their overall health. At Women’s Health Associates, we encourage our patients to receive screenings when necessary to detect low bone density that can indicate osteoporosis. Low bone density increases the risk of broken bones,” said Dr. Jacqueline Kates, a board-certified physician at Women’s Health Associates. “This month, in recognition of both National Women’s Health Week and National Osteoporosis Awareness Month, we are trying to help our patients understand the risk factors associated with osteoporosis and take preventive measures that promote not only healthy bones but a healthy lifestyle.”
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 54 million Americans have osteoporosis, putting them at risk for broken bones. In addition, osteoporosis is responsible for 2 million broken bones every year in the U.S. One in two women and up to one in four men over age 50 will break a bone in their lifetime due to osteoporosis.
“People of all ages and ethnicities can develop osteoporosis, but there are risk factors that include primarily women who are older or post-menopausal,” said Dr. Robert Wool, a board-certified ob/gyn at Women’s Health Associates. “Post-menopausal women typically have lower levels of estrogen because their ovaries have stopped producing the hormone, and low estrogen levels are associated with bone loss.”
The mineral needed by the body for healthy bones is calcium, which cannot be produced by the body; it must be absorbed through food. Anyone looking to improve their bone health is encouraged to eat a calcium-rich diet. Good sources of calcium include dairy products (such as low-fat or non-fat milk, cheese, and yogurt); dark-green, leafy vegetables (such as bok choy and broccoli); calcium-fortified foods (such as orange juice, cereal, bread, soy beverages, and tofu products); and nuts, particularly almonds.
“The recommended amount of calcium varies for individuals,” Wool said. “Consult your healthcare provider to determine your adequate calcium intake per day. Women’s Health Associates offers bone-density tests, and patients with a family history of osteoporosis are encouraged to discuss their options with their healthcare provider.”