Osteoporosis is often thought of as a woman’s disease. It is the cause of one in three women suffering a broken bone during their lifetime. What isn’t talked about as often, however, is just how dangerous osteoporosis can be for men. The rate of osteoporosis among men increases to near that of women as they grow older, but the danger is significantly greater. Complications and mortality related to hip fractures are three times higher for men than women.
Risk Factors for Osteoporosis in Men
How can you determine if you or your senior loved one is at risk for osteoporosis?
In general, risk factors that cause men to develop osteoporosis include high alcohol consumption, smoking, low body mass index, family history, and medications and illnesses that cause bone loss. More common risk factors among men include prostate cancer and glucocorticoid treatments.
The International Osteoporosis Foundation has developed the One Minute Osteoporosis Risk Test. The 19-question test is gender-specific and can be completed online. It helps assess risk by looking at factors that contribute to osteoporosis such as family history, thyroid problems, use of medications known to cause bone loss and more.
Primary care physicians may also order a bone mineral density (BMD) test if they think osteoporosis risk criteria have been met. It is a simple, non-invasive x-ray procedure that takes only a few minutes. The BMD can tell if you or your senior loved one has osteoporosis.
Preventing Osteoporosis in Men
While there are some fixed risk factors for osteoporosis such as family history and age, there are preventative measures men can take to reduce their risk. They include:
• If you are a smoker, stop smoking. Research shows that smokers have a 29% greater risk for suffering a fragility fracture and a 68% higher risk for a hip fracture.
• Consume alcohol in moderation. Anything more than two units of alcohol can significantly increase the odds for developing osteoporosis.
• Monitor your body mass index (BMI). Having a BMI of less 20kg/m2 can put you at two times greater risk of a fracture when compared to people with a BMI of 25 kg/m2 or greater.
• Eat a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and protein. Poor nutrition is a risk factor for osteoporosis in older adults.
• Talk with your physician about the need for a vitamin D supplement. Most of us get adequate vitamin D from the sun in the warmer months of the year. But for older adults in northern climates who may avoid going outdoors during the winter months, a supplement is often necessary.
• Staying active can also help you avoid developing osteoporosis. Studies show that older adults who sit for more than nine hours a day are 50% more likely to experience a hip fracture than those who sit for less than six hours a day.
• Exercise three or four times a week for a period of 30 to 40 minutes. It can help to improve endurance and core strength which are both necessary in helping to prevent falls that can lead to fractures.
Knowing the facts about osteoporosis is the best way to determine risk factors and take preventative steps before it happens to you or your loved one!