Mother-Daughter Health Dialogue Doesn't Cut Bone Deep: New Research Reveals Mothers and Daughters Talk about Family Health History, but Leave Osteoporosis Out of the Conversation

National Osteoporosis Foundation Launches Generations of Strength: A Mothers and Daughters Campaign to Get Women Talking about Bone Health and Steps to Prevent Osteoporosis

Sep 26, 2011, 10:09 ET from National Osteoporosis Foundation

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --  If you're like most American women, you speak with your mother or daughter at least once a week on topics ranging from relationships to fashion to health. In fact, a new survey by the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) reveals that 80 percent of mothers and daughters regularly speak about family health history, but fail to talk about serious hereditary diseases, like osteoporosis. Ninety-four percent of mothers and daughters say they are not concerned about osteoporosis, even though 50 percent of women over age 50 will break a bone in their lifetime due to this debilitating disease. Osteoporosis impacts more women than all types of cancer combined.(1)

In an effort to add bone health and osteoporosis as topics of mother-daughter conversation, the NOF is launching Generations of Strength: A Mothers and Daughters Campaign and "Let's Get Talking" competition. With one in two women in America currently at risk of breaking bones due to osteoporosis, the need to get women talking about calcium, vitamin D, effective exercise and medical treatments for osteoporosis is clear.

"As the daughter and granddaughter of severe osteoporosis sufferers, I've seen firsthand that having healthy conversations before you are in a life-altering medical situation is the key to effective caregiving," said Gail Sheehy, bestselling author, caregiving expert and National Honorary Committee Chair for Generations of Strength: A Mothers and Daughters Campaign. "By establishing an ongoing dialogue with those you care for and those who may one day care for you, women can educate one another on their risks for serious diseases like osteoporosis and share critical prevention and treatment information to break the cycle of diseases that are passed from one generation to the next."

Osteoporosis...Not Just Your Mother's Disease

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes your bones to become weak and more susceptible to fractures. While family health history can account for up to 90 percent of your risk for osteoporosis, women should consider other risk factors, such as old age, being small and thin, smoking, drinking alcohol in excess and certain medications and medical conditions. Often called the "silent disease," many people don't realize they have osteoporosis until they experience a fracture or broken bone. Yet, the new research reveals that while 90 percent of mothers and daughters recognize bone fractures as a consequence of osteoporosis, less than half realize that fractures often lead to a lack of independence, loss of mobility and an overall decrease in quality of life.

Of equal concern, the research shows that on average mothers and daughters do not start thinking about how bone health will affect them until they are 33-years-old. With the impact of osteoporosis typically manifesting in women age 50 and older, osteoporosis is a pediatric disease with geriatric consequences. The critical years for building bone density start before we are teenagers and by age 18 girls have acquired 90 percent of their adult bone mass.

Bone Up on Bone Health  

"For the first time, we have an opportunity to better treat and ultimately prevent osteoporosis by starting conversations about bone health and family history," said Amy Porter, executive director and CEO, National Osteoporosis Foundation. "Osteoporosis is not an unavoidable fate for those at risk. With calcium, vitamin D, effective exercise and medical treatments followed as prescribed; women can protect against the disease. Our research shows mothers and daughters are willing to make simple lifestyle changes to improve their health, such as eating well, exercising regularly and going to annual physicals. So, with our Generations of Strength campaign, NOF is starting the conversations that will spark these changes by helping mothers and daughters talk openly about their risk factors and encourage one another to do what they can to break the cycle of hereditary diseases, like osteoporosis."

Now is the time for women to start talking about family heath history and osteoporosis risk factors and making the changes that will allow them to enjoy a lifetime of independence and mobility. NOF recommends women follow five steps to ensure better bone health throughout their lives:

  • Start a conversation about bone health and family health history with your mother or daughter;
  • Talk to your physician about osteoporosis risk factors;
  • Strive to get enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet;
  • Exercise daily; and
  • Ask your health care provider when you should get a bone density test — a painless, 10-minute test that helps predict your risk of fractures or breaking bone.

"Let's Get Talking" Contest

As part of Generations of Strength: A Mothers and Daughters Campaign, NOF is launching the "Let's Get Talking" online contest. Mothers and daughters are invited to log on to and share their most memorable conversations for a chance to win bi-weekly prizes and a Grand Prize luxury weekend in New York City. You can submit a summary of a conversation, photo or video that captures a favorite moment together. And once you've entered, you're eligible to vote for your favorite entries throughout the contest and to select the grand prize winner in the Spring of 2012.

Visit the NOF at to enter the contest and learn more about preventing and treating osteoporosis through interactive patient tools, online communities and patient/doctor videos.

Meet the National Honorary Committee

The NOF is honored to announce the Generations of Strength National Honorary Committee. The National Honorary Committee is comprised of nationally and internally-known mothers and daughters who will play a critical role in taking the campaign's educational messages to the masses and igniting meaningful conversations about osteoporosis among women of all ages.

Gail Sheehy (
Bestselling Author, Journalist and Patient Advocate

Joan and Melissa Rivers ( and
Comediennes and Actresses

Cloris Leachman, Dinah Englund and Hallelujah Lindsay (
Actress mother, daughter and granddaughter

Lainie Kazan (
Actress and singer

Freda Lewis-Hall, M.D. and Erin Harris
Mother and Daughter
Chief Medical Officer and Executive VP, Pfizer Inc.
Member, Board of Governors, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)

Paula Zahn (
Host & Executive Producer of Discovery ID's "On the Case"
Co-Host of Channel 13's Sunday Arts

Janet Hubert (
Actress, Author and Entrepreneur

Carol Saline (
Author, "Sisters" and "Mothers & Daughters"

Marie Savard, M.D. (
Author and Women's Health Expert

Meagan Johnson (
Speaker and Author of Generations, Inc.

Buffy Cafritz and Jan Chipman (
Sisters and Philanthropists
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Matilda Raffa Cuomo (
Former First Lady, State of New York
Founder, Mentoring USA

Carlene A. Garner (
International President, General Federation of Women's Clubs

Ann Lurie
Founder, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Foundation
Founder, Africa Infectious Disease Village Clinics, Inc.
Trustee, Northwestern University Board of Trustees

About the National Osteoporosis Foundation
Established in 1984, the National Osteoporosis Foundation, a leading community-focused health organization, is dedicated to the prevention of osteoporosis and broken bones, the promotion of strong bones for life and the reduction of human suffering through programs of awareness, education, advocacy and research. For more information on the National Osteoporosis Foundation, visit

(1) National Cancer Institute. Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER), Cancer Statistics, All Cancer Sites, Table 2.21: Estimated United States Cancer Prevalence Counts on January 1, 2008.

Valerie Patmintra
(202) 721-6341

SOURCE National Osteoporosis Foundation