When we hear about osteoporosis, we often think of it as a women’s disease. And why not…women out number men in this disease, and on average there are 8 million women compared to 2 million men diagnosed with osteoporosis in the U.S.
Osteoporosis can be a devastating and crippling disease for both men and women with up to a 25% mortality rate after a hip fracture. Unfortunately, most men are underdiagnosed and often untreated.
So what are the risk factors?
Men over the age of 70 are are risk. Low body weight or weight loss can also increase one’s risk. Sedentary lifestyle and any previous osteoporotic fracture will raise the risk of another fracture. The last few risk factors include: smoking, spinal cord injury, alcohol use, androgen deprivation therapy, such as cancer, and prolonged systemic corticosteroid therapy which you may see in uncontrolled asthma.
Men who have any of these risks should get screening with dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) that can be ordered by your primary care practitioner. There are effective treatments with prescription biphosphonates and lifestyle changes. Don’t forget to get a Vitamin D level drawn to see if supplementation would help.
For more information: Qaseem A et al. Screening for osteoporosis in men: A clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med 2008 May 6; 148:680.