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Mark Cagney
Presenter TV3’s Ireland AM
Mark Cagney

"Osteoporosis – not a word or condition I would have paid much attention to for the first 45 years of my life. Why would I? No one in my family suffered from it, and no one I knew did either. My knowledge of the condition was minimal at best, and my awareness of its effects almost non-existent.

What I knew could be summed up in a sentence. Osteoporosis, also known as ‘brittle bone disease’, affects primarily older women, is commonly caused by a drop in hormone levels post menopause or calcium deficiency. I was healthy, didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, worked out three times a week, had a very good diet, took extra Vitamin D – because of my unusual working hours. Oh, and I wasn’t an older woman! No worries. Sorted. Wrong!

I was 43 when I started doing the Ireland AM show on TV3, and although I had done other broadcasting work that required an early start, nothing quite prepares you for getting up at 3.00am every day, 46 weeks of the year! The adjustment in lifestyle and to your circadian rhythm is hard to describe unless you go through it. Imagine the worst Jet Lag you’ve ever experienced for about 3 months and when that goes, you’re left with chronic fatigue.

The fatigue persisted, and exercise wasn’t helping. In fact, the usual endorphin boost exercise would normally give me wasn’t happening, I ached all the time, and my bones were sore. Being a typically stubborn man, it took two years before I went to see someone about it. Very quickly I was diagnosed with Hemochromatosis – Iron Overload. Those affected retain too much iron in their blood, and depending on the individual, this overload can lodge or build up in any of the body’s major organs - the heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas etc – with quite devastating and sometimes fatal consequences. In my case Hemochromatosis caused the iron to build up in my endocrine system affecting my testosterone levels which in turn led to the Osteoporosis.

So long story short, at 45 I was diagnosed with Osteoporosis with a T-score of minus 2.5 which means I had the bone density of a woman in her 70’s; undiagnosed and it would have been the bone density of a woman in her 80’s and very hard to treat. The doctor informed me that with the right treatment, diet and exercise would hopefully reverse this in about 3 years. The treatment worked wonderfully and my last DXA Scan results were a plus 2.5 T-Score.

My Osteoporosis story is not typical and neither was my treatment plan. But that is the point, there are no typical Osteo stories. Yes, there are sections / demographics of society who are more prone to it and its related illnesses but no one is immune and like me you could be susceptible for reasons you’re not even aware of! If you are concerned at all, I would suggest a visit to your doctor."