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For release after June 12, 2000

ISRAELI SINGS TO STOP OSTEOPOROSIS

"Bone of My Own" Released Globally

by JUDY SIEGEL

© 2000 IOF-International Osteoporosis Foundation

Osteoporosis is nothing to sing about. The bone-thinning disease disfigures and debilitates millions of middle aged and elderly people around the world, most of them women.

After decades when little or nothing could be done about it, osteoporosis can now, to a certain extent, be prevented. And osteoporosis is easy to diagnose and treat – that's something to celebrate. To encourage individuals at risk for osteoporosis and their doctors to sit up and take notice of this disorder, the Swiss-based International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) has commissioned a popular song called "Bone of My Own."

People today live longer, and women and men over 50 want to enjoy a better quality of life through their seventies, eighties and even nineties. But just as weeks of space travel leaches some of the calcium out of the bones of young astronauts, decades of life here on earth tends to do the same to ordinary people as their tissues age and their body's production of certain hormones declines. People should prepare for their physical old age just as they save money over decades in a bank account. One factor in ensuring bone health is to make regular "calcium deposits" by exercising and eating calcium-rich foods from a young age.

Prof. Uri Liberman, Chairman of the IFOB
 
Prof. Uri Liberman, Chairman of the IFOB
 

A fractured hipbone, one of the most common osteoporotic fractures, can cause a variety of complications, says Prof. Uri Liberman, head of the metabolic department at the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva, Israel, and chairman of the Israeli Foundation for Osteoporosis and Bone Diseases (IFOB). "Patients who were previously active may be confined to wheelchairs and lose their independence. In 10 to 20 percent of hip fracture cases, the patient will die within a year. That's why it's so important to prevent the disease before it's too late. Patients need to be more personally aware of osteoporosis. Even some physicians and policy makers still don't regard it today as a disease."

Osteoporosis is a huge problem that was recognized only as a disease in the last decade.

Worldwide, the lifetime risk for osteoporotic fractures in women is at least 30% and probably closer to 40%. In men the risk is 13%, according to the IOF. The lifetime risk of hip fracture in women is larger than the sum of lifetime risks of having breast, endometrial and ovarian cancer. The lifetime risk of hip fracture in men is greater than that of prostate cancer.

According to the World Health Organization, the number of hip fractures worldwide could rise from 1.7 million in 1990 to 6.3 million by 2050. In the Western world more people die each year from complications following a hip fracture than die from gastric or pancreatic cancer.

Too fragile, sensitive, too breakable inside,
My body says it's time now, time to change my mind.
Sometimes it's not so easy, but then I find a way
To put myself in order, be active everyday...


Lyrics from "Bone of My Own"

"IOF's member national societies – some 100 societies in 60 countries – heard the premiere of "Bone of My Own" at the 6th IOF World Wide Conference of Osteoporosis Patient Societies in Chicago in June," says Mary Anderson, IOF's executive director. "We offered them the music and encouraged them to use the song as a centerpiece in their World Osteoporosis Day activities on October 20, 2000."

The innovative idea to use a song with a catchy tune and meaningful lyrics to promote the cause of osteoporosis prevention and treatment was proposed to the IOF by IFOB executive manager Irit Inbar. Although Israel is a tiny country of just six million people in a troubled region, its citizens are greatly concerned with their health and in recent years have become much more aware of osteoporosis. The average lifespan of Israelis is increasing, women averaging 79 and of Israeli men 76. And a new system in which a committee of experts recommend to the Health Ministry what new medications and medical technologies to add to the "basket of health services" that is supplied to residents under the National Health Insurance Law has intensified public interest. Drugs for treating osteoporosis were added to the basket during the past year after women's and patients' groups lobbied hard for their inclusion; the government is expected to spend over $12 million in 2000 alone on these medications.

Irit Inbar, Executive Manager of the IFOB Irit Inbar, Executive Manager of the IFOB

"IOF member national societies in most countries are developing similar campaigns to change government health care policies," Anderson adds. "This song will help decision makers realize that osteoporosis causes tremendous human suffering as well as great economic loss."

Today I know, it's my life. I have to live with that,
To bless, to cherish moments, nothing is too late, not yet.
What makes me strong and happy, I feel it in my bones,
A smile that keeps me going, to do it on my own.

The song was the brainstorm of Tel Aviv public relations expert and former journalist Aliza Zanna, who has volunteered her services to the cause of fighting the disorder. "No one before had thought of using a song to lead a global battle against a disease," says Zanna.

"I think she came up with a wonderful idea – to use music to raise awareness about osteoporosis," comments Paul Spencer Sochaczewski, IOF's communications adviser. "So much of the osteoporosis-related communications around the world are depressing, clinical and much too serious. We think this song will alert new audiences to the fact that people at risk of osteoporosis should get a bone density test now."

"The IFOB showed great initiative in coming up with the idea for this song and in producing it so professionally," adds Anderson. "For us, this project shows how much energy exists in the global osteoporosis movement."

Zanna is excited by the fact that the Israeli-composed music and lyrics might be sung in neighboring countries. All of IOF's approximately 100 national member societies will receive a compact disk with the English-language version of "Bone of My Own" sung by Israel's famous blonde vocalist Ilanit, and the music only for playback. "If it chooses," says Zanna, "each society can ask one of its own national singing stars to perform the song in their national language. The song will be used in each country as a highlight of World Osteoporosis Day."

And when I help and give you a hand,
We feel much better, my friend.
And when a friend is helping a friend,
Feelings of hope never end...

With all the changes, fears, the loneliness and pain,
Look around, good people, all the love you gain,
You bend and pick a flower, it fills your heart with joy.
It makes your hopes fly higher, you learn to enjoy.

The song was a collaboration of Inbar and Zanna, who invited the participation of Ilanit, her personal manager Shlomo Zach, Zach's 21-year-old son Amit, and veteran lyricist Hamutal Ben Ze'ev Efron.

Ilanit, famous Israeli singer
 
Ilanit, famous Israeli singer lends her voice and support to the osteoporosis cause
 

Ilanit, who has represented Israel in national and international song competitions, first became familiar with osteoporosis prevention and treatment when she appeared in a 1999 series of public-service ads on TV. "I was filmed for the campaign aimed at getting older women to get their bone-density checked. I'm 52, and I identified with the cause."

Before appearing on the TV spot, Ilanit boned up on osteoporosis, reading every relevant pamphlet and article she could get her hands on. "I have a narrow bone structure; I myself go regularly for a bone-density test, as well as a mammogram, and I take calcium and vitamin pills and exercise regularly." So when Shlomo Zach approached her with the idea of singing the English-language version of the song, she jumped at the chance. "It's really a lovely melody, and it carries a meaningful message – about personal suffering, physical damage, of helping yourself and helping friends."

The melody was written by Amit Zach, who plays the piano and synthesizer even though he never formally studied music. Zach had just finished three years of compulsory service in the Israel Defense Forces when his father suggested he compose the music. The young man sings in French, has made CDs and produced a musical version of "Oedipus" for a run in Tel Aviv.

But, like most people just out of their teens, he had never heard of osteoporosis. "I didn't know exactly what it was, but when I read the Hebrew-language lyrics and realized the importance of the assignment. I was very moved. The notes just flowed very quickly. The wonderful text influenced the melody and the beat, which reflect the structure of the words." The song, says Zach, "will reach everybody. It's personal. It reflects pain but gives hope."

Hamutal Ben Ze'ev Efron, who wrote the lyrics, has composed many well-known songs. "I had worked with Shlomo and Ilanit in the past. I don't have osteoporosis, but since I suffer from osteoarthritis, a connective tissue disorder that weakens the knees, I could identify with the feelings of people living with pain. I wrote the lyrics in Hebrew, and after Amit's music was ready, I translated the words into English."

"Writing lyrics about a disease is not so pleasant, but since prevention and treatment are now possible, I felt there was an optimistic message," Ze'ev Efron explains. "I wrote lyrics with a double meaning that refer not only to bones but to emotions that mean something to everyone. I think a song is an excellent vehicle for getting the message across; it will penetrate people's hearts and minds. If this experiment succeeds, other organizations that fight disease should try to produce a song executed by performers people identify with. Such an effort might even persuade young people not to smoke or to say no to drugs. A song can cause people to feel and to think and to give them power."

Be strong and aware in your body and your soul,
Go strong into the future, walk secure and tall.
Hold the ones who love you, always pray and praise,
Let our spirit guide us, in changes of the age.

Judy Siegel-Itzkovich is health and science correspondent of The Jerusalem Post in Israel and has been a staff reporter since 1973, when she immigrated to Israel from New York. She is also Israel correspondent of the British Medical Journal. In 1997, she received the Women of Distinction Award (in the field of journalism) from the 350,000-member Hadassah Women's Zionist Organization of America.

For more information about "Bone of My Own", or to receive a CD, please contact:
info@osteofound.org

For more information about the creation of "Bone of My Own" please contact:
Irit Inbar: ifob@internet-zahav.net

IOF thanks the following people who have contributed ideas and energy in creating "Bone of My Own":

IOF-International Osteoporosis Foundation
presents
BONE OF MY OWN
The Official Song of World Osteoporosis Day (WOD) 2000

Lyrics by Hamutal Ben Zeev Efron
Music, arrangement and production by Amit Zach

Performed by ILANIT

Directed by Rachel Zetland

Based on a concept by Aliza Zanna of Zanna and Ophir Public Relations

Produced by Baruch Friedland – www.zikidisc.com
for Shlomo Zach Productions

A production of
IFOB-Israeli Foundation for Osteoporosis and Bones Diseases

Special thanks to the dancers
Hadar Frank
Yael Ben Ami

Thanks to The Israeli Exercise Center for Osteoporosis
Brater Studios

All rights reserved © IOF 2000

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