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CHARLOTTE, N.C. _ Jane Stacy's mother broke her hip, moved into a nursing home and then broke her other hip before dying last year at the age of 93.
The experience frightened Stacy, who ``saw the handwriting on the wall.''
Not only did she have her mother's genes, she had several other risk factors for developing the brittle-bone disease called osteoporosis. At 66 and postmenopausal, she's a petite woman who has been taking steroids for many years because of multiple sclerosis. Her upper back had begun to curve, so that she appeared hunched over.
But unlike women of her mother's generation, Stacy could do more than just drink milk and avoid falls.
When a bone density test confirmed osteoporosis, her doctor prescribed Fosamax, one of several drugs approved in recent years to prevent and even reverse bone loss.
Two years later, follow-up tests show that her bone strength has improved significantly. The fracture risk in her hips went from 40 times greater than normal to seven times greater.
``I wanted to jump up and down for joy,'' she said.
With new tests for bone density and new drug treatments, osteoporosis could be a problem whose end is in sight.
``There's no reason for any woman who currently has a straight back to ever, ever have a curved back. The disease is detectable and now it's treatable,'' said Scott Humphries, Stacy's son-in-law, who operates a bone-density testing business that contracts with area physicians.
Still, even though doctors report a rising interest in testing, some say they'd like to see more.
``I still have the feeling that the vast majority of women don't worry that much about osteoporosis,'' said …