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Men: Do You Know Your Osteoporosis Risk?

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What do you think of when you hear the word “osteoporosis”? No doubt for many people, the image of a postmenopausal woman comes to mind. She’s long been the primary target of advertisements for bone-building drugs and osteoporosis-awareness campaigns. It’s true that the disease, which makes bones weak and brittle, disproportionately affects women. But the reality is that more than 8 million of the 40 million Americans with osteoporosis or low bone mass are men. And such a loss of bone strength translates to serious consequences.

Men account for one-third of hip fractures worldwide. Men who experience a hip fracture face a premature death rate that’s two to three times higher than that of women, with men more likely than women to die within a year of breaking their hip. Higher male death rates are also seen with spine and other major fractures. 

Your odds of developing osteoporosis depend on certain factors, especially age, which accelerates bone loss. Several medical organizations, including the National Osteoporosis Foundation and the Endocrine Society, recommend that doctors evaluate and screen men 70 and older for osteoporosis risk. They also recommend that men ages 50 to 69 with risk factors undergo a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan.

The most common risk factors include:

  • A history of bone fractures after age 50
  • The presence of certain medical conditions, such as hypogonadism (low testosterone levels), hyperparathyroidism (a glandular condition), hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) and digestive diseases like celiac disease and Crohn’s disease
  • Ongoing use of certain drugs, such as corticosteroids (for example, prednisone) and androgen deprivation therapy (used to treat prostate cancer)
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Current cigarette smoking
  • Not physically active
  • Vitamin D deficiency and low calcium intake
  • Low body weight
  • Loss of height
  • Family history of osteoporosis

If you have any of these risk factors, talk with your doctor about being evaluated for bone mineral density (BMD).

Treatment typically involves lifestyle modifications, such as getting adequate calcium and vitamin D and engaging in weight-bearing exercise. Other therapies depend on the underlying cause of the condition if it can be identified. For example, testosterone replacement therapy is used to treat men with hypogonadism.

Drug therapies include bisphosphonates, which slow the breakdown of bone; teriparatide, a synthetic hormone that helps build bone; and denosumab (Prolia), which blocks the formation of a protein that causes bone to break down.

Posted in Osteoporosis on July 24, 2015

Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Click here for additional information: Health After 50 Disclaimer

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