On Your Health

Check back to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog for the latest health and wellness information for all Oklahomans, published three times a week.

Osteoporosis in Men

06/16/2016

Posted in

Every three seconds someone has an osteoporotic fracture, totaling 8.9 million fractures every year. Those numbers are alarming, but even more alarming?  Osteoporosis is mostly thought of as a “women’s disease,” which ignores its prevalence in men.

Although fractures are less common in men, when they occur they are more life-threatening and can cause disabilities or even death. The International Osteoporosis Foundation states that one in five men over the age of 50 will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture, a percentage much higher than the risk of contracting prostate cancer.

This week we are highlighting the causes, risks and treatments of osteoporosis in men in conjunction with International Men’s Health Week, which is part of Men’s Health Month. Started in 1994, Men’s Health Month is celebrated every June to raise awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. The event is celebrated across the country with health screenings, fairs, education events across the country.

Tomorrow is Wear Blue Friday. Whether it is your friend, brother, dad, boyfriend, spouse, or boss, show them you care about them and their health by wearing blue tomorrow, June 17. Use the #showusyourblue hashtag to share your support on social media.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a common metabolic bone disease that causes the skeleton to weaken and the bones to break. It frequently gets overlooked because it’s often not apparent until a fracture happens.

Bone is constantly changing, meaning old bone is removed and replaced by new bone. During adolescence, the skeleton grows rapidly because the amount of bone produced is more than bone removed. After hitting peak bone mass, usually in young adulthood, skeletal mass diminishes as bone loss increases and new bone production decreases.

Causes

“While great strides were made for osteoporotic awareness in women, men missed the boat,” says Dr. Justin Sparkes, an internal medicine physician at INTEGRIS. “With a longer life expectancy, men have begun exhibiting the same osteoporotic traits women do, just at an older age.”

While women see rapid bone loss in their 50s following menopause, men see no decline. However, male bone loss and calcium absorption are equivalent to that of women when men reach age 65 or 70.

Sparkes says, “Once a man turns 70 providers can initiate osteoporosis screenings. It’s also important for men to take it upon themselves to talk to their doctor if they think they could be at risk for osteoporosis.”

During this stage of life, spinal fractures can cause vertebrae to weaken, resulting in back pain, a curved back and height loss. More serious than that are bone fractures in the hip or spine that can cause a disability or even death, especially in older adults.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for osteoporosis include:

  • Factors out of your control: family history, body shape, age, race
  • Reduced testosterone levels
  • Dietary reasons: low calcium intake, eating disorders, gastrointestinal surgery
  • Long-term use of steroids or other medications
  • Chronic diseases that affect kidneys, stomach, lungs or intestines
  • Lifestyle choices: sedentary living, excessive alcohol consumption or tobacco usage

One way to determine if you’re at risk for male osteoporosis is to use this self-assessment tool.

Treatments

“For most cases of osteoporosis, there are pharmaceutical and lifestyle changes that can treat a patient’s osteoporosis,” Sparkes says. Regular physical exercise, reducing alcohol intake, avoiding tobacco and adding calcium and vitamin D supplements are helpful treatments you can incorporate into your daily routine. Your specific diagnosis from a doctor will determine if medication is necessary for your treatment plan.

Knowledge is key when staying ahead of a “silent” disease like osteoporosis. By knowing the causes, risk factors and treatments for osteoporosis, you can help yourself live a longer, happier and healthier life. Visit the INTEGRIS website to learn more about the orthopedic services offered.

Subscribe to the INTEGRIS On Your Health blog

Subscribe for weekly emails full of useful and interesting Oklahoma-centric health and wellness info, from the doctors and health experts at INTEGRIS.