Your Bones and You

Osteoporosis and Men


dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones




 Well, whaddya know?  Osteoporosis is gender blind - both men and women succumb to the disease, and for somewhat similar reasons as developed in the excerpt below. 

The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that today, 2 million American men have osteoporosis, and another 12 million are at risk for this disease.

Yet, despite the large number of men affected, osteoporosis in men remains underdiagnosed, underreported, and inadequately researched.

Bone growth

During youth, bones grow in length and density. During the teen years, maximum height is reached, but bones continue to grow more dense until about age 30 when peak bone density is attained. After that point, bones slowly start to lose density or strength. Throughout life, bone density is affected by heredity, diet, sex hormones, physical activity, lifestyle choices, and the use of certain medications. Men have larger, stronger bones than women which explains, in part, why osteoporosis affects fewer men than women.

Risk factors for osteoporosis

The following risk factors are associated with osteoporosis in men:

  • Prolonged exposure to certain medications, such as steroids used to treat asthma or arthritis, anticonvulsants, certain cancer treatments and aluminum-containing antacids
  • Chronic disease that affects the kidneys, lungs, stomach, and intestines and alters hormone levels
  • Undiagnosed low levels of the sex hormone testosterone
  • Lifestyle habits:

1. Smoking
2. Excessive alcohol use
3. Low calcium intake
4. Inadequate physical exercise

  • Age: Bone loss increases with age
  • Heredity
  • Race: Of all men, white men appear to be at greatest risk for osteoporosis. However, men from all ethnic groups develop osteoporosis

How is osteoporosis diagnosed?

Unfortunately, the diagnosis of osteoporosis in men is often overlooked. Your physician should take a medical history to identify risk factors and conduct a complete physical exam, including height, weight, x-rays, and urine and blood tests. He or she also may order a Bone Mineral Density Test (BMD Test) or bone mass measurement, a special type of x-ray that can diagnose osteoporosis.

If you notice a loss of height, change in posture, or sudden back pain, it is important to inform your doctor.

Get more information on osteoporosis and men here