How to Prevent Osteoporosis

by John R. Lee, M.D. and Virginia Hopkins

Osteoporosis is a multi-faceted disease and its causes vary from individual to individual. However, there are some things that everyone can avoid that can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Soda Pop and a High protein Diet

I believe that one of the leading contributors to
osteoporosis in the U.S. is carbonated soft drinks containing phosphorous.
Research has shown a direct link between too much phosphorous and calcium loss.
If you're guzzling down a couple of fizzy soft drinks a day, you're most likely
creating bone loss.

Our other source of excessive phosphorous in the U.S. is
eating too much meat. The average American gets more than enough protein, so
for most of us it can only help to cut down on our meat consumption. A recent
trend among those who love food but don't love the consequences of too much fat
and protein is to use meat as a garnish or flavoring in a meal, rather than as
a major portion. Fill up on vegetables and complex carbohydrates (whole grains,
potatoes, rice, corn, beans), and use meat to enrich your meals. Beans are an
excellent and nutritious source of protein and contain many important vitamins
and minerals.

Coffee, Alcohol, and Cigarette Smoking

Here's yet another good reason to either give up coffee and
alcohol or use them in moderation. And do I need to tell you how important it
is to stop smoking now! (It's never too late to reap the benefits of
quitting smoking.) Each of these substances creates a negative calcium balance
in the body. Substances called phytates and oxylates bind with calcium in the
large intestine and form insoluble salts, rendering the calcium useless. The
bone mineral content of smokers is 15-30% lower in women and 10-20% lower in
men. Cigarette smoking is a significant risk factor for osteoporosis. Twice as
many women with osteoporosis smoke as compared with women who do not have


Don't take antacids with aluminum and don't use aluminum
cooking pots. It has been shown that small amounts of aluminum-containing
antacids increase the urinary and fecal excretion of calcium, inhibit
absorption of fluoride, and inhibit absorption of phosphorus, creating a
negative calcium balance. The calcium is excreted instead of being


Diuretics are medicines that cause water loss in the body.
Along with the water you lose minerals, most notably calcium, magnesium and
potassium. They are commonly used in conventional medicine to treat high blood
pressure, swelling of the lower legs, and congestive heart disease. People who
use diuretics have a higher risk of fracture. If you need to use a diuretic,
try a gentle herbal one such as dandelion root in a tincture, capsule or


What's so bad about fluoride? You probably think it just
builds good teeth. There is good, solid scientific evidence that fluoridated
drinking water increases your risk of hip fractures by 20-40%. So much fluoride
has been put into our water and toothpaste over the past 30 years that levels
in our water, food and drink are very high. While eating a normal diet the
average person exceeds the recommended dose. There is also evidence that
ingesting high levels of fluoride can cause abnormal bone growth. Please avoid
fluoride, in all forms including toothpastes and mouthwashes.

You can be thankful if you live in an unfluoridated
community because it's not easy to get rid of fluoride in your tap water.
Distillation and reverse osmosis are the only two reliable methods for removing
fluoride. Other water filters may work at eliminating fluoride for a short
period of time, but fluoride binds so strongly and quickly to filter materials
such as charcoal, that the binding sites become fully occupied after a short
time. If you are at a high risk for osteoporosis, I recommend you spend the
money on a water filter that removes fluoride.

High Dose Cortisone

A well known risk for osteoporosis is long term treatment
with the synthetic cortisones such as Prednisone. Since the cortisones (or more
properly, glucocorticoids) are closely related to progesterone in their
molecular structure, the theory is that they compete for the same receptor
sites on bone-building cells. However, while progesterone gives bones the
message to grow, the cortisones give bones the message to stop growing. If you
must be on a cortisone, talk to your doctor about using a low dose natural
cortisone called hydrocortisone rather than the synthetic cortisones. You can
refer him or her to the book Safe Uses of Cortisol by William

Bone Mineral Density (BMD) Testing

One of the best ways to find out if you're losing bone is to
have someone measure your height, and then check it every six months or so. If
you start losing height, that's a sure sign that you're losing bone on your
spine. I recommend that women at risk for osteoporosis get a bone mineral
density measurement as they're going into menopause. That way you'll have a
baseline with which to compare later bone density tests, to measure your
progress. The safest and most accurate ways to measure bone are with Photon
Absorptiometry, and Dual Energy X-ray Absorbtiometry (DEXA), which is 96-98%
accurate and uses very low-dose x-rays. I don't recommend CAT scans, as they
use too high a level of X-rays. A newer technique for measuring bone loss is
called “Urinary Excretion of Pyridinium,” which measures a substance in the
urine that can indicate rapid bone turnover rate.

For a detailed article on what bone density tests really
mean, and how to interpret them, please check out the
October 98 issue of the

In a


  1. If you're smoking, stop now.

  2. Reduce or eliminate coffee and alcohol. (No more than
    one cup of coffee and one alcohol drink per day. If you are at a high risk I
    advise elimination.)

  3. Get some weight bearing exercise at least one hour
    three times a week or 20 minutes daily.

  4. Avoid antacids, and hydrochloric acid (H2) blockers
    such as Tagamet, Zantac and Pepcid.

  5. Avoid prescription drugs that cause bone loss, such as
    diuretics and synthetic cortisones.

  6. If you are over the age of 50, avoid fluoride in
    toothpastes, mouthwash and tap water. If you live in a fluoridated community
    and are at a high risk for osteoporosis, invest in a water filter that
    eliminates fluoride.

For a more detailed osteoporosis program, please read the
extensive chapter on Osteoporosis in our book
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause

Note to Reader from Virginia Hopkins
Dr. John Lee was my great friend, mentor, co-author and business partner. This website is dedicated to continuing the work that Dr. Lee and I did together to educate and inform women and men about natural hormones, hormone balance and achieving optimal health. Dr. John Lee was a courageous pioneer who changed the face of medicine by introducing the concepts of natural progesterone, estrogen dominance and hormone balance to a large audience of women and men seeking answers to their hormone questions. Dr. Lee has left us a wonderful collection of writings from his newsletters that are, in large part, freely shared on this website. Enjoy!

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