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Friday, March 1, 2024

Osteoporosis in Men: It’s Not Just a Women’s Disease


Osteoporosis, commonly known as a “women’s disease,” has long been associated with menopausal women and postmenopausal older women. However, recent research has revealed that osteoporosis is not solely confined to women, as men can also suffer from this bone disease.

Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by weak, brittle bones that are more prone to fractures. This is due to decreased bone density and microstructural deterioration. While it is true that women are more likely to develop osteoporosis, affecting 1 in 3 women over the age of 50, it is also important to recognize that it can affect men as well.

Men may be less susceptible to osteoporosis compared to women, but they are not immune to the condition. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, up to 25% of men over the age of 50 will experience an osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime. Men tend to develop osteoporosis later in life compared to women, around the age of 65. However, when men do suffer from fractures related to osteoporosis, the consequences can be more severe.

So why are men at risk of developing osteoporosis? There are several factors that can contribute to this. First, just like women, hormonal changes can play a role. Testosterone, the male hormone, helps maintain bone density. As men age, testosterone levels decline, leading to a loss of bone density and possibly osteoporosis.

Other risk factors for osteoporosis in men include smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, a family history of the disease, a diet poor in calcium and vitamin D, low body weight, sedentary lifestyle, certain medical conditions, and certain medications such as corticosteroids or anticonvulsants. Additionally, men who have undergone prostate cancer treatment that involves androgen deprivation therapy are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.

The symptoms of osteoporosis in men may be similar to women, but it often goes unnoticed until a fracture occurs. These fractures can be significantly debilitating and lead to a decreased quality of life. Common sites for fractures in men include the hip, spine, and wrist.

Preventing osteoporosis in men is similar to prevention in women. Regular exercise that includes weight-bearing activities, a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, limiting alcohol consumption, avoiding smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight are all essential. Additionally, it is crucial for men to be aware of their risk factors and to discuss them with their healthcare provider.

Diagnosing osteoporosis in men can be more challenging than in women. Men are often not as routinely screened for this condition, leading to delayed diagnosis. However, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scans, commonly used in women, can also be utilized to measure bone density in men.

Treatment for osteoporosis in men is similar to women and may include lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, vitamin and mineral supplements, medications, and hormone replacement therapy in some cases. It is important for men with osteoporosis to work closely with their healthcare provider to develop an individualized treatment plan.

In conclusion, osteoporosis is not just a women’s disease. Men can also suffer from this condition, although they may develop it later in life and face increased risk when fractures occur. It is essential for men to recognize their risk factors, undergo routine screenings, and take preventive measures to maintain strong and healthy bones. By raising awareness about osteoporosis in men, we can eliminate the misconception that it is solely a women’s disease and ensure that both genders are educated and empowered to take control of their bone health.

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