Many people think of osteoporosis as a woman’s disease. But about 6 percent of U.S. men ages 65 and older have this bone-thinning disease. Millions more stand a high chance of developing it.
Aging and Other Risk Factors
Both men and women reach peak bone mass in their 30s. Because men in their 50s don’t go through menopause, which causes a rapid hormone shift that affects bone health, they tend to lose bone mass at a lower rate than women.
By age 65 or 70, however, men start to lose bone mass at the same rate as women. At this point, we all become less efficient at absorbing calcium, a mineral essential to bone health. Other risk factors for weak bones include:
- Excessive alcohol use
- Low testosterone levels
- Family history
- Chronic diseases affecting the kidneys, stomach, lungs, or intestines
- Taking glucocorticoid drugs to treat asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, or other conditions
Osteoporosis has no symptoms until a fracture occurs. Even broken bones, especially in the spine, can take you by surprise. Common warning signs are sudden back pain, loss of height, or a change in posture. Men who experience these symptoms, know they’ve broken a bone, or have risk factors for weak bones should talk with their doctors about osteoporosis.
A bone mineral density test can detect osteoporosis. Treatment includes medications and lifestyle changes to prevent fractures and preserve your ability to move well and live independently.
4 Ways to Protect Your Skeleton
Start boosting your bone strength today:
- Don’t smoke and avoid alcohol abuse.
- Do weight-bearing exercises such as walking, hiking, weight training, or dancing.
- Get enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet. Men ages 31 to 70 need 1,000 mg of calcium and 600 IU of vitamin D daily. Older men may need more.
- Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about your prescription drugs and their effects on bone health.
Rheumatology specialists at WCHN can assess and treat osteoporosis. Learn more about rheumatology here: