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John F. Aloia, MD, Chief Academic Officer of Winthrop-University Hospital and Director of Winthrop’s Bone Mineral Research Center, has been awarded a nearly $4 million research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support his research project titled, “Vitamin D and Osteoporosis Prevention in Elderly African Americans.”

The specific aims of Dr. Aloia’s research are to determine if vitamin D supplements will safely reduce bone loss and improve physical performance in elderly African Americans, with the long-term goal of developing strategies for the prevention of osteoporotic fractures in African Americans.

“African Americans have generally not been included in osteoporosis studies, mainly because their risk for fractures is 40 percent less than white individuals. However, because African Americans have low levels of vitamin D, their bone mass decreases as they age, and fracture rates are rapidly increasing among elderly African Americans. This has become a significant health problem and it is our hope that vitamin D supplements in elderly African American women will decrease their loss of bone mass and improve their physical well-being,” said Dr. Aloia, a highly-respected researcher in the areas of osteoporosis, calcium and vitamin D and Principle Investigator in this study.

What’s more, Winthrop’s Osteoporosis Diagnostic Research and Treatment Center has been awarded a New York State grant to become one of six regional centers for the New York State Osteoporosis Prevention and Education Program (NYSOPEP). NYSOPEP is an educational initiative within the New York State Department of Health which is committed to helping people build stronger bones by providing bone health education to the general public and medical professionals, with the goal of reducing the incidence of fractures among New York residents. As the only NYSOPEP center on Long Island, Winthrop is committed to increasing understanding of osteoporosis in the region. Winthrop provides counseling, support groups, and a speaker’s bureau of doctors and nurses – specialists in osteoporosis – to educate audiences of all ages about all aspects of osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a progressive disease that causes bones to become brittle, causing people to become more prone to factures, loss of height and chronic pain. The NIH reports that osteoporosis is a “silent disease” that can progress without warning signs or pain, and many women are unaware that they have developed osteoporosis until they fracture a bone, usually the hip, spine or wrist. These fractures can affect a woman’s mobility and ability to carry out activities of daily living, leading to a loss of independence, which makes prevention and treatment strategies for osteoporosis essential for all women.

Winthrop’s Osteoporosis Diagnostic, Research and Treatment Center offers a full range of services provided by highly trained and experienced professionals. In addition to using the latest diagnostic technology, the Center provides advanced treatment and information about prevention. They also conduct advanced research, bringing the latest treatment approaches to patient care long before results are published. For more information about Winthrop’s Osteoporosis Diagnostic, Research and Treatment Center, call 1-866-WINTHROP.

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