Health Inc.

Gwyneth Paltrow, NPR Has Some News For You And Your Bones

Gwyneth Paltrow

Some of the best bones in the business. Lefteris Pitarakis/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

Hey, Gwyneth Paltrow, we're big fans of your work. And now, we have something to say that may make you a big fan of our work.

You recently revealed on GOOP (Gwyneth's bloggish website) that you've been diagnosed with osteopenia. That's a slight thinning of the bones that occurs naturally as we get, umm, older. It's not as bad as osteoporosis because it usually doesn't result in disabling bone breaks.

What you may not know — and I say that only because this story was told for the first time last winter on NPR — is that osteopenia may be one of those diseases kinda invented as a money maker for the pharmaceutical industry.

Create a drug — in this case Fosamax — then create a health problem for it, market the heck out of the problem, thus creating demand for the drug, and, ta da, big bucks.  Our Alix Spiegel and Gisele Grayson uncovered that amazing history behind osteopenia. If you haven't heard it, Gwyneth, you won't regret listening/reading, it might help reduce any anxiety you may have over this diagnosis. Btw, Gisele was also diagnosed with osteopenia during the reporting of the story. (Yes, being a health reporter can be dangerous!)

You don't give details on your treatment (and why would you?), but you do  write that your doctor is recommending prescription strength vitamin D. Our Richard Knox has a great story on that vitamin. His reporting may or may not be relevant to your particular situation, but it is interesting nonetheless.

Basically, some doctors claim that a certain level of vitamin D in your body can help prevent many types of cancer, heart attack, diabetes (both types), autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer's, autism, even tuberculosis and the flu.

But Dick (that's what we call him in the office) tells us there is no conclusive evidence that vitamin D supplements have any preventive effects on those diseases.

So what about vitamin D supplements as prevention or treatment for osteoporosis or osteopenia? Just for this blog post, Dick contacted another expert today — one of the world's leading experts on vitamin D! — because Dick is that kind of a sweetheart. (Yes, some reporters can be sweethearts!)

His expert, Dr. Clifford J. Rosen at Maine Medical Center in Portland, says that vitamin D supplements for prevention or treatment of osteopenia or osteoporosis are promising, but unproven, except in the case of elderly folks who have a known vitamin D deficiency.

OK, last thing. You may want to consider sardines. They're a fantastic source of natural vitamin D.

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