Facebook Pixel

Expert View: Dr. Robert Heaney Explains His Groundbreaking 40 Year Bone Study on Nuns

By Expert
Rate This

Forty years ago in 1967 nearly 200 nuns in the Omaha area enrolled in a study run by Creighton University researcher Dr. Robert Heaney. Results gathered over 25 years of in-hospital studies and later from bi-yearly checkups served as the basis for the calcium intake recommendations for adult women.

EmpowHer is honored to introduce to you Dr. Robert Heaney from the Creighton University Osteoporosis Research Center. He is internationally recognized in the field of bone, biology, and calcium nutrition. “Dr. Heaney, thank you so much for helping us empower women.”

Dr. Heaney: “My pleasure.”

EmpowHer: “Doctor, how hard was it in 1967 to find 200 nuns that were willing and able to be a part of your revolutionary study?”

Dr. Heaney: “It was not hard at all. I knew that I needed to get on the stick before it was too late. The problem of osteoporosis has been around for a long time and I was ending up studying women who already had it. I realized that I needed to study women who are still healthy to see what changes were occurring in their bodies which might lead them to the point where they would suffer with osteoporosis later on. So I said to myself, how can I do that? I knew that nuns get osteoporosis and I knew that they have relatively more freedom to make long-term commitments. In contrast, married women with growing kids and a husband who might get transferred around the country just do not have the kind of freedom that would be needed to make a 20-25 year commitment to be involved in a study. So I contacted the Mother Superiors of six nunneries that were located in our region and asked if they would be interested in participating in the study. Once they accepted I drafted a letter for them to send out to all of the members who were between ages 35 and 45.”

EmpowHer: “Doctor, I am just picturing this letter showing up at the nunnery where Maria is before she meets the Von Trapp Family. Is that an accurate picture?”

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


Get Email Updates

Osteoporosis Guide


Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!