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Claire Peach, Australia

Could early detection have helped Claire Peach?

Miss Peach, of Adelaide, Australia, was in perfect health. She was 17 and hoping to represent her country as a rower in the 1996 Olympics.

But her life changed when she heard a loud crack in her back during a race on the River Murray. She had dislocated her pelvis, and a bone scan revealed that she had osteoporosis.

Today, instead of preparing for the 2000 Olympics, Claire Peach now avoids contact sports and adheres to a special high-calcium diet, combined with a regular exercise program.
"I was training so hard that my periods stopped," the young woman, now 25, explains. "I was on a low fat diet and stopped eating any dairy foods, so I wasn't getting much calcium."
"I didn't realize my high level of training was putting my body at such risk," the young woman explains. "I only wish that I had known what I do now. Most kids never think about osteoporosis. I certainly didn't. People need to have respect for their body and seriously think about what they do with it. It has to last you a long time," she says. "I'm okay now, but my competition days are over. But I'll have to be pretty careful when I reach menopause and when it comes time to educate my own children about healthy bones."

One positive side effect of Claire Peach's suffering is that after learning about the likelihood of a hereditary connection to the disease, she encouraged her mother to have her bone density measured. Through this early detection her mother, 55, was diagnosed with osteoporosis and receives medication.

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