Share This Article:
Osteoporosis Affects Men Too
Osteoporosis gets plenty of press with older women, but older men would do well to assess their risk for this disease. Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bone density loss in both women and men. Its progression is silent, and without screening, it usually becomes evident when the person suffers a fractured bone from a low-impact activity. More than half, 55%, of all senior adults in the United States have osteoporosis. Until recently, osteoporosis was seen as a disease that affected primarily white, older women, but more research has shown that it affects both women and men of all races. Current estimates indicate that osteoporosis affects two million senior men in the United States, with 12 million more at risk. As the population ages, these rates will only increase.
While osteoporosis appears to affect fewer senior men than women (one in five men compared with one in three women), the consequences for men are more severe. For example, older men are more likely to die within a year of having a hip fracture due to bone loss. Unfortunately, due to a lack of understanding of the disease, older men are also less likely to be diagnosed with and receive treatment for osteoporosis after a fracture occurs. Considering this, men over 50 may want to be proactive and find out if they have osteoporosis so they can receive treatment for it before a fracture occurs. They can start by assessing their risk.
The same factors that place women at risk also increase the risk of osteoporosis in men. Those with a higher risk include those with the following:
- Family history of bone fractures, especially hip fractures, due to osteoporosis
- Inactive lifestyle
- Excessive alcohol use
- Certain medications used over prolonged periods of time, such as corticosteroids, sedatives, antidepressants, and medications that inhibit the absorption of calcium
- Low body weight and weight loss
- Loss of height
- Abnormally low levels of sex hormones
- Gastrointestinal disorders that prevent the absorption of nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, vitamins D and K, phosphorous, and amino acids (all essential for bone health)
Older men who have any of these factors should discuss their risk with their doctors and request a screening, although there is some controversy as to whether those test results can be interpreted the same for men as for women. They can also make lifestyle changes that will help decrease their risk, including decreasing alcohol intake, stopping smoking, increasing activity levels, and doing weight-bearing exercises. Any dramatic lifestyle changes should only be done, however, after consulting with a medical professional. By taking action early, older men can tackle osteoporosis before it causes significant bone density loss and help ensure they stay independent and active longer. If you would like more information on senior topics, or to find out how in-home care can help seniors continue to live independently, contact your nearest Comfort Keepers® office today.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (May 2009). Osteoporosis and bone health. AAOS Now. Retrieved from http://www.aaos.org/news/aaosnow/may09/clinical8.asp.
International Osteoporosis Foundation. (n.d.). Facts and statistics. Retrieved from http://www.iofbonehealth.org/facts-statistics.
National Osteoporosis Foundation. (n.d.). Just for men. Retrieved from http://nof.org/articles/236.
NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases–National Resource Center. (January 2012). Osteoporosis in men. Retrieved from http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/bone/osteoporosis/men.asp.