Unfortunately, I was guilty of characterizing something in that article — and a lot of people make the same mistake. I de-emphasized the fact that osteoporosis is a man’s disease as well. A recent study has found that the one-year mortality rate for men after a hip fracture is twice that in women.
Researched conducted over the past 17 years by the American College of Physicians has shown that there are rising rates of osteoporosis among men, which are projected to increase by nearly 50 percent during the next 15 years, with rates of hip fracture expected to double by 2040.
Osteoporosis, or porous bone, is a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, leading to bone fragility and an increased susceptibility to fractures, especially of the hip, spine and wrist. It can progress for years without symptoms and is a threat for an estimated 44 million Americans, or 55 percent of the people 50 years old or older. However, it can strike an individual of any age. Throughout life, bone density is affected by heredity, diet, sex hormones, physical activity, lifestyle choices and the use of certain medications.
Men have larger, stronger bones than women, which explains in part why osteoporosis affects fewer men than women. Today, 2 million American men have osteoporosis and another 12 million are at risk for this disease. Yet, despite the large number of men affected, osteoporosis in men remains underdiagnosed and underreported. Men age 50 or older have a greater risk of suffering an osteoporosis-related fracture than developing prostate cancer.
Here are some factors that may help men better identify their risk for osteoporosis:
— Prolonged exposure to certain medications, such as steroids used to treat asthma or arthritis, or certain cancer treatments.
— Chronic disease that affects the kidneys, lungs, stomach, and intestines and alters hormone levels.
— Lifestyle habits like smoking; excessive alcohol use; low calcium intake; or inadequate physical exercise.
— Race. Of all men, white men appear to be at greatest risk for osteoporosis. However, men from all ethnic groups develop osteoporosis.
Plus, if you notice a loss of height, change in posture, or sudden back pain, it is important to inform your doctor. Older men, especially those age 65 or older, need to be assessed regularly for risk factors for osteoporosis, and the National Osteoporosis Foundation has recommended that men 70 years of age and older undergo bone mineral density testing. Also, for those who have had a fracture, bone mineral density testing is recommended to assess the severity of the fracture.
A bone mineral density test can:
— Detect osteoporosis before a fracture occurs.
— Predict chances of fracturing in the future.
— Determine rate of bone loss and monitor treatment (if test is conducted annually).
A BMD test is performed with a piece of equipment called a dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, or DEXA, which only exposes the patient to 1/30th of the radiation used in a standard X-ray. BMD tests are currently available at Lumberton Radiological Associates.
If you feel at risk for osteoporosis, you should ask your primary health care provider to perform an individual assessment. They may take a medical history to identify risk factors and conduct a complete physical exam, including height, weight, X-rays, and urine and blood tests. They may also order a DEXA to evaluate your bone density.
However, there are things you can do today to help prevent and treat bone loss, not to mention make you a generally healthier person. Change unhealthy habits, such as smoking, excessive alcohol intake, and inactivity. Make sure to get enough calcium. Men younger than 50 need 1,000 mg of calcium daily, and men age 50 and older need 1,200 mg daily. Make sure to get adequate vitamin D. Men younger than age 50 need 400 to 800 I.U. and men age 50 and over need 800 to 1,000 I.U. of vitamin D daily. And engage in a regular regimen of weight-bearing exercises.
Which, by the way, are all good things to do at the start of a new year.
— Mike DeCinti is the marketing director for Lumberton Radiological Associates. He can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 738-8222, ext. 258.