Focus on the elderly: Osteoporosis in Men

Osteoporosis, its precursor osteopenia or brittle bone disease is generally considered a disease that affects women. Whilst in reality 1 in 5 men over 50 will, according to the Irish Osteoporosis Society, develop an osteoporotic fracture. Patients usually have no signs or symptoms of the disease until a bone is broken.

There are many varied reasons for developing osteoporosis in men including:

Overtraining: This particularly applies to athletes that have to maintain a low body weight. A low body weight is usually associated with low levels of testosterone and high levels of cortisol which affects bone and therefore low bone density. Conversely a lack of exercise is also a risk factor.

Dietary problems, a low caloric intake, inadequate calcium and vitamin D levels in the diet, also play a role.
Alcohol abuse i.e. More than 21 units of alcohol a week for a man, will lower bone density. As will an excessive caffeine intake and smoking.

Osteoporosis can occur as the result of a wide variety of medical or surgical conditions or their treatment.

However genetics is one of the strongest links for osteoporosis. If there is a family history of osteoporosis particularly down the male line, there is a marked increase in developing the condition.

It’s best to try and look after your bone density in your youth. When we’re young, bone density is gradually increasing until reaching the peak bone mass, usually in the early 20’s, after which bone density starts to decrease. The higher the peak bone mass the less likely osteoporosis will develop. Studies have shown ‘banking bone’ in your youth with weight bearing exercise, a healthy diet of recommended levels of calcium, sufficient vitamin D, can reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

If you are concerned, male or female about your bone density discuss it with us or your GP.

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