Meg Farris / Medical Reporter

NEW ORLEANS -- It has no symptoms, but yet it can severely limit your quality of life and even lead to death.

Now, local doctors want to get ahead of a common bone disease.

And you can join in a free study and learn how strong your bones are.

Christine Bulot is the picture of health. At 45, she doesn't look anywhere near her age. But while at Tulane studying to get her Ph.D. in biomedical sciences in the department of pharmacology, she read a flyer about a free study that she could join.

'I think it's really important. We really need to know what's going on with our own bodies, and this was, I'm benefiting the research. I'm benefiting myself and I can help myself down the line,' said Bulot.

The study is looking in to osteoporosis, a condition where your bones lose their density and can break more easily. And all too often, it is deadly.

'This is a very common public health problem influencing both women and men,' said Dr. Yongjun Liu, an associate professor in department of biostatistists and bioinfomatics in the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane.

So Tulane doctors are looking for 20,000 men and women, 18 and older, to join in a free osteoporosis study. Since it's a complicated condition, both genetics and lifestyle will be part of the study. Everything from obesity, weight, diabetes and muscle mass will be calculated. Smoking, alcohol use, exercise and waist measurements will also be studied.

All you have to do is spend about two hours on just one day getting a painless DEXA scan to check out your bone density, give a small amount of blood and fill out a questionnaire. It's all confidential, and you will be compensated with a $25 gift card.

'The purpose of our research is to try to find those risk factors for this disease, so in the future, once we find those risk factors, those will be helpful for future prevention and treatment of this disease,' said Dr. Liu.

Bulot is not only glad she is helping the research move forward, but she learned something surprising when she got her results.

'I was a little depressed when I first saw them (the DEXA scan results.) But then I realized that this is not a sentence. This is something that can be reversed, and I realized that I have not been taking that great care of my health. And my mother's bone scan's better than mine. So I know that she eats better than I do,' said Bulot.

Her bone density was lower than others her age. She says without this free study, she would have never, at her age, gotten a DEXA scan, especially since they can run $300 to $400.

Now she is eating more calcium. She is aware that studies show resistance exercises, such as weight lifting, and making sure your hormones are at the right level lower the risk of osteoporosis.

'It was an eye opener for me,' she added.

To join the Louisiana Osteoporosis Study, call 504-988-1016 in New Orleans or 225-381-2721 in Baton Rouge, or click here.

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