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Osteoporosis and Men

Medically Approved by Dr. Edward Salko

Table of Contents

As a large portion of the population ages bone fractures are expected to rise. Though there are preventative practices to curb low bone density the majority of these treatments focus on post-menopausal women, who are at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis. A new study from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) suggests that men could greatly benefit from the same preventative measures concerning osteoporosis.

The study examined treatment for patients that suffered a distal radial fracture or break near the wrist end of the radius – the larger of the two forearm bones. Typically this type of fracture signals early bone density loss, frequently occurring 10 to 15 years before a hip fracture. The study found that following a wrist fracture, “53 percent of women received Dual X-ray Absorptiometry, the preferred technique for measuring bone mineral density, compared with only 18 percent of men. Additionally, 21 percent of men versus 55 percent of women initiated treatment with calcium and vitamin D supplements within six months of injury.”¹

The discrepancy in care is due to an entrenched belief that women benefit more from these preventative measures because osteoporosis is a “women’s disease.” The dangers associated with this thinking are becoming more prevalent as the population ages.  Studies have shown that men have “twice the mortality rate of women both during initial hospitalization and in the year following a hip fracture. Survival rates following a wrist fracture, the number-one upper extremity fracture in older adults, also are lower among men.” Thus the study hopes to reevaluate the treatment of early fractures in men in the hopes of preventing major breaks in the future.

There are of course preventative steps that all men (and women) should take to thwart bone density loss before a fracture.

  • The most important safeguard is exercise. Jogging or even walking for 30 minutes every day will increase bone density in hips. Strength training with weights or resistance bands twice a week will also build bone mass.
  • Take calcium. The Surgeon General recommends 1000mg per day for men 19 to 50 and 1200mg per day for men over 50.
  • If you smoke, stop. Nicotine has a toxic effect of bone cells. Smokers are at a 55 percent higher risk of suffering a hip fracture.
  • Know if you’re at risk. Men can (and do) get osteoporosis and thusly can benefit from preventative treatment if they know they’re at risk. Learn more by reading our post, Osteoporosis: Are you at Risk?  or by taking the Osteoporosis Screening Panel for an in-depth review of your personal bone heath. Take control of your health and bones today!

1. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “Osteoporosis: Not just a woman’s disease.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 November 2014. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141105140708.htm

Journal reference:

Distal Radial Fractures in Older MenA Missed Opportunity? Carl M. Harper, MD; Shannon K. Fitzpatrick, MD; David Zurakowski, PhD; Tamara D. Rozental, MD. Distal Radial Fractures in Older Men: A Missed Opportunity? The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, November 2014 DOI: 10.2106/JBJS.M.01497

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