AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – The University of Colorado School of Nursing is in the middle of a groundbreaking study looking at bone density loss in aging women.

“I start off with warming up on the treadmill, consisting of walking and jogging and then I do weight-bearing exercises,” said study participant Teresa Brown.

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Teresa Brown (credit: CBS)

She has been coming to the Anschutz Medical Campus three times a week since April.

“My body is changing. I haven’t lost a lot of weight, but my shape is changing,” she said.

A CT scan done at the beginning of the study revealed Teresa had bone density loss.

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“I thought I was doing everything I should be doing,” she said.  “I was taking calcium, vitamin D, walking and I thought I was fine, so I was surprised.”

Kathy Jankowski is the Associate Professor overseeing the research and says people naturally lose about 1% of their bone density each year in adulthood.

“Losing bone may not be that big of a problem if it didn’t also cause fractures, so that’s what we want to prevent,” she said.

The double-blind placebo study is documenting what happens when weight bearing exercise is combined with supplementing the hormone Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).

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“We hypothesize that the DHEA plus the exercise in combination will work better than DHEA alone or exercise alone,” said Jankowski.

If that’s proven true, it could lead to a simple and effective breakthrough therapy to protect women as they age.

Regardless, Jankowski hopes these women will learn basic exercise skills and gain confidence.

“I want to empower them to know how to do exercise properly and to be able to go into any gym and feel like they know what they should be doing,” she said.

Half way through the study, Theresa already feels that empowerment.

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“I have learned a lot, especially with the weights. I have never enjoyed lifting weights, and they have changed that for me,” she said.

The five-year study is being funded through the National Institute of Aging under the National Institute of Health.

They are looking for more woman to participate in the study.

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You are asked to email or call Jacklyn at (720) 848-6476 if you are interested and fit the following study criteria:

  • A postmenopausal woman with no history of breast cancer.
  • Aged 55-85 years.
  • Not currently using hormone therapy.
  • Willing to take DHEA or placebo every day for nine months.
  • Currently exercising less than two days per week.
  • Willing to exercise at their specialized gym on the Anschutz Medical Campus.