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The North Bend Eagle


Eason helps others with studies

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 4/27/11

Claire Eason is a musician. But she is also a medical researcher.

Well, kind of.

Claire Eason takes pills on a regular basis as part of an osteoporosis study. She has been participating in medical studies for 30 years.

For the past 30 years Claire has taken part in research studies as part of the Creighton University School of Medicine and Nursing. The first time she became involved was for personal reasons. It dealt with estrogen replacement therapy, something her mother had struggled with after having an hysterectomy.

Later there was a study relating to cancer in women. Her mother had breast cancer as well as two female cousins, putting Eason at higher risk for breast cancer, so there was a personal interest this time also.

“There has been a benefit for me,” Eason said. “Because of my involvement with these studies, I am more careful with my health. Calcium, iron replacement, breast cancer awareness. I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle because of the constant reminders from the studies.”

Eason said one of the biggest challenges offered by a study was the one where she had to give herself daily injections of calcium.

“It turned out to be an interesting study,” Eason said. “My body reacted better to taking injections than the pills.”

Eason has participated in several studies related to calcium. She is now involved in a study of Vitamin D and calcium to prevent cancer. The study is continuing to look for volunteers.

More than 1,400 women from 16 northeast Nebraska counties are participating. They are required to make visits to sites in Norfolk, Fremont or Omaha, keep a diary and take pills.

“This critical study is needed to determine whether calcium and Vitamin D really do decrease the risk of cancer,” Dr. Joan Lappe said. She is a professor of medicine at Creighton and involved with the Osteoporosis Research Center. “We have designed this study so that findings will help us understand whether these supplements can help prevent falls, respiratory infections, high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis and diabetes. Scientists from all over the world tell me how they are waiting for the results of this study.”

Lapple said that about 700 more women are needed to complete their enrollment. To qualify, women must be over the age of 55 and in good health. By calling 877-386-5491, women can answer questions to see if they qualify. Participants are paid for travel expenses. Arrangements will be made so that friends can have appointments at the same time if desired.

Eason emphasized that none of the medications are experimental. They are researching data to find out if the medications or supplements actually work.

“These studies provide a base work of statistics on which to judge effectiveness of mediations or supplements already on the market,” Eason said.

When she first began participating in these studies 30 years ago Eason had to travel to St. Joseph Hospital in Omaha for the initial evaluation and to check in every six months or so. Some studies lasted a year or two. Now there is a clinic at Fremont Area Medical Center.

Occasionally a DEXA scan (bone density test) is involved and Eason is pleased to report that she has not lost any of her height because of osteoporosis. The vitamins she has taken were all provided by Creighton.

“I never felt it was personally invasive or I put myself in a experimental situation,” Eason said. “This was something I could do.”

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