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Osteoporosis

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There was a time when Morgan Montgomery could soar across a stage, his muscles taught, body strong and proud, and the audience in his thrall.

As a classical ballet dancer he had honed his body to perfection and was reaping the rewards in stage productions in Canada, Europe and Japan.

Long after his dancing career was over he still remained fit and active, especially on Whistler’s slopes.

So at 55 years old there was no good reason why this former career ballet dancer should have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, a potentially debilitating bone disease.

"There is no answer," said the building superintendent at Nesters Square.

"And I guess that’s the most frustrating part of it. I don’t know why it’s happening."

He is not alone. New studies show that more men may be diagnosed with this disease in the future as Canada’s population gets older.

The Canadian Multi-Centre Osteoporosis Study (CAMOS) is delving into a ten-year study at various sites across Canada, checking the bone density of a random selection of people, not just older women.

"This is where they are finding that there’s more men than they originally thought (with osteoporosis)," said Wendy McCrea, executive director of the Osteoporosis Society of Canada in Vancouver.

She suggests that this might be linked to various lifestyle factors, which increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Those risk factors include lack of calcium, smoking, alcohol, lack of sun, lack of activity and poor diet.

Still, by these counts Montgomery was not in a high-risk category. He led a relatively healthy lifestyle.

Looking back, knowing what he now knows, he said there were perhaps some warning signs. He was diagnosed with degenerative hip disease in 1992. At that time he also found out that there was degeneration in his upper neck and back.

But because he was a man, no one thought to give him a bone density test, least of all himself.

"It’s all part of the misconception that has been going on all these years about the nature of the disease," he said.

Then last summer he thought he had a strained back.

It turns out that along with a compression fracture in his lower back and two stress fractures, he had an extreme case of osteoporosis, with a reading of minus 3.9 on the bone density scale.

It was quite a blow to take especially after recovering successfully from hip surgery.

"At times I just really wonder why and wonder why I am bothering because it’s just almost too much," he said.

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