Osteoporosis is a disease that commonly affects women. This is why you would often see calcium supplement products target the female market. But did you know that this condition can also develop among men?
Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens the bones over time, making them more vulnerable to breaks or fractures. If not prevented or treated, it can progress without the person feeling any pain or experiencing other symptoms. That is until the bone breaks and causes serious injury. Osteoporosis-related fractures usually occur in the wrist, spin and hip.
Every year, it causes over 1.5 million fractures and that is in the United States alone. The most common of these fractures are in the vertebrae, which accounts for almost 700,000 cases. The national cost for such injuries amounts to around $14 billion each year.
Elderly women are most prone to osteoporosis but they are not the only ones who can suffer from this. It can occur at almost any age and it can also develop in men. However, it is often not recognized among men, probably due to the stigma attached to the disease that it's an elderly woman's condition.
Here are two possible reasons osteoporosis is underdiagnosed among men.
Men Have Greater Bone Mass
Men's bones are generally larger than women's. In other words, they have larger reserves of bone mass to get from as they grow old. This slows down their bone loss significantly. Also, they don't experience rapid bone loss that takes place among women after menopause.
Screening Standards Are Based On Young Women
The screening procedure used for diagnosing osteoporosis is called Bone Mineral Density (BMD). It is a test that measures the solidity and mass of the spine, hip and wrist of a person. It is a painless, noninvasive, safe, and effective way to determine any loss of bone mass.
The only problem with this is that standards it uses are usually based on young women. Because healthy young women generally would have lower bone mass than healthy young men, it will not show the latter's risk for osteoporosis.
Risk Factors for Men
Despite having larger reserves of bone mass, men can still be at risk of this disease. In fact, when they reach the age 65, men can also lose bone mass at the same rate as women. Additional risk factors would include:
- small build
- long-term use of corticosteroids (commonly prescribed to treat arthritis, asthma, Crohn's disease, and lupus among others)
- low testosterone
Experts predict that by 2025, the rate of hip fractures among men will be the same as with the women. Men are generally older than women when they suffer from a fracture. Because of this, complications and death from hip fractures are thrice higher in men than women.
Due to these findings, it is imperative for men to adopt a healthy lifestyle that can prevent or delay the onset of osteoporosis.
To do that one should have:
- calcium-rich diet
- adequate physical exercise
- healthy habits that don't include alcohol drinking or smoking
- calcium intake of 1000 mg a day; those who are over 51 years old should increase intake to 1200 mg a day.