January 24, 2010

USA: The Risk of Osteoporosis in Men

. NEW YORK, NY / Parade Health / January 24, 2010 Stay Healthy The Risk of Osteoporosis in Men By Dr. Ranit Mishori Osteoporosis — thinning of the bones that is associated with loss of calcium and bone minerals — overwhelmingly strikes women, particularly in their more advanced years. But that doesn’t mean men are immune. At least 2 million men currently have the disease, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, and millions more could be at risk. A 2008 article in The New England Journal of Medicine called osteoporosis in men under-diagnosed, under-recognized, and under-treated. It’s true that, on average, men have larger and stronger bones than women, which explains the disease’s greater prevalence among women. But researchers are finding that larger and stronger bones do not necessarily guarantee protection. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, about 6% of all men over the age of 50 will experience a hip fracture and about 5% will fracture one of the bones of the spine as a result of osteoporosis. 5 Medical Tests Men Need In fact, breaking a bone—a major complication of osteoporosis—may have more serious consequences for men than for women. For example, although the rate of hip fractures is higher in women, men are more likely to die within a year of breaking a hip. Unfortunately, osteoporosis doesn’t have many warning signs. Some men may notice a slight loss in height or severe back pain. But most men with the condition—like women—will feel nothing that tells them that their bones are slowly getting weaker and more brittle, until it’s too late. It’s a classic silent disease. 6 Great Foods for Men Men should be aware of the dangers of osteoporosis if they do any of the following: • Take certain medications regularly (such as steroids or seizure medications). • Have a chronic disease of the kidneys, lungs, or intestines. • Have low levels of testosterone, the male sex hormone. • Drink alcohol excessively. • Smoke. • Are sedentary or immobilized. 5 Things Your Body May Be Telling You If you fall into even one of these categories, ask your doctor whether you should get a bone-mineral density test—which uses a special kind of X-ray called a DXA scan to diagnose osteoporosis. Some medical organizations recommend screening for all men over age 70. To help prevent osteoporosis — or to avoid broken bones if you already have the condition — make exercise a part of your daily routine. Using weights and working against gravity are particularly important for bone strength. Get enough calcium and vitamin D. Quit smoking and reduce your alcohol intake. There also are medications that treat osteoporosis. Your doctor can recommend the best one for you [rc] Copyright 2009 ParadeNet, Inc.