Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the skeleton to weaken and the bones to break. Even today with all of the knowledge that we have many men, and even health professionals view osteoporosis as a womans disease. Currently 2 million men are afflicted with the disease and another 3 million are at risk.
Osteoporosis is less common in men than in women for several reasons. Men have larger skeletons, their bone loss starts later in life and progresses more slowly, and they do not experience the rapid bone loss that affects women when their estrogen production drops as a result of menopause. Despite these differences, men can be at high risk for this disease.
Men can experience considerable loss of bone as they age, and this decline in bone mass is an important contributor to the development of osteoporosis. There are several reasons for this loss of bone. Declining testosterone levels may cause bone loss that is similar to the bone loss that occurs in women at the time of menopause.
Estrogen may also play a critical role in bone health in men. Changes in estrogen levels with age may be as important, if not more important, as those changes in testosterone. Although osteoporosis is less common in men than in women, it is estimated that one-fifth to one-third of all hip fractures occur in men.
After the age of 60 it is estimated that up to a quarter of all men will sustain fractures. Men who suffer from broken bones or fractures are less likely than women to be treated for bone disease, even though treatment could help to prevent future broken bones. Men have higher instances of mortality resulting in hip fractures then women. Vertebral fractures occur about half as often in men as they do in women.
Of interest is the fact that despite extensive testing, no obvious cause has been found in a large number of men who develop fractures or have low bone mineral density. When osteoporosis develops in the absence of recognized risk factors, the condition is known as idiopathic osteoporosis.
The evaluation of osteoporosis in men is similar to that in women. Fractures that occur in the absence of trauma should always raise the suspicion of osteoporosis, and the possibility of osteoporosis should be considered in men who have any of the risk factors. Besides gender and menopause, the same risk factors for women apply to men and similar preventative methods are shown to be effective.
A proper diet including adequate amounts of calcium and Vitamin D, Regular strength building exercise, and other healthy lifestyle choices such as not smoking or consuming too much alcohol.
The treatment of osteoporosis in men consists of identifying and treating specific causes of bone loss. The same methods for prevention are often used for treatment and maintenance. If testosterone deficiency is found, testosterone replacement therapy may be considered. Other treatments for use in men include calcitonin, alendronate, human parathyroid hormone and others. These treatments have been approved for use but are still being evaluated as to their effectiveness.