February 21, 2017

Osteoporosis is not just a ‘women’s disease.’


Bone health might not be on your radar until later in life, but men do have some risk factors for osteoporosis aside from old age. Here’s what you need to know.


Men, in addition to women, should consider bone health

Osteoporosis develops less often in men than in women because men don’t experience a rapid hormone change in mid-life (such as menopause). Bone loss in men starts later in life (than in women), and men also have larger skeletal frames than women.

However, by their mid-60s, men lose bone mass at the same rate as women, says the National Institute of Health. One in five men over 50 years of age will have an osteoporosis-related fracture, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation.


What are the osteoporosis risk factors in men?

Taking certain medications long term can increase your risk for developing osteoporosis.

“The thing that is by far the number-one risk factor that we see in urology are patients with prostate cancer who end up having hormone treatments,” said Douglas Milam, M.D., associate professor of urologic surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “Those would be people who are on meds to stop production of testosterone.”

People who take steroids for asthma or arthritis, who undergo certain cancer treatments, and who use antacids for prolonged periods may also be at greater risk.

Your lifestyle choices may put you at risk, as well. Smoking, excessive alcohol use, poor diet or nutrition and lack of exercise are all factors to consider when it comes to your bone health.


How can men take charge of their bone health?

One of the best things you can do to improve bone health is to increase load-bearing activity. “That means doing exercises like running, walking and lifting weights,” Milam said. “People who are sedentary are at the highest risk.”

Ask your physician when it’s right for you to start bone-density screenings. Typically, these aren’t done until men reach the age of 70 or older, but if your doctor determines you have risk factors, he or she may recommend them earlier in life or suggest certain lifestyle changes as a preventive measure.