Make no bones about this - Men have osteoporosis too

  • By Dr. T Deepa Porkodi

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones of the body lose their strength gradually and become thin and brittle. This is most commonly seen in women who have attained menopause. The reason being the decrease in the hormonal levels, particularly estrogen.

Studies reveal that 20% of sufferers are men. Falling levels of testosterone are one of the causes for men developing brittle bones. Men’s bodies convert some amount of testosterone into estrogen, which is very essential in maintaining the bone mass. Genetic deficiency of the enzyme that helps the conversion of testosterone to estrogen also is a major factor for men developing osteoporosis.

Calcium and vitamin D play an important role in developing the bone mass and in helping the bone grow. Exercising helps too. When you exercise, the muscle gets pulled and the bone responds by growing. Too much of indoors and sedentary work may make men get the less of all three and it eventually leads to weak bones and osteoporosis.

Studies reveal that 20% of sufferers of osteoporosis are men.

Certain medications like anti-seizure drugs, drugs for prostate cancer and steroids have side-effects that make it impossible for the body to use vitamin D. Using them for a long time reduces the bone mass density and leaves the bones brittle making them easily prone to fractures.

Smoking is a vice that has to be quit for more reasons than one. An analysis of several major studies on the effects of smoking shows that smokers have a 55% higher risk of hip fractures and low bone mineral density than non-smokers. Nicotine has also shown to have a direct effect on bone cells.

A long list of medical conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and digestive and blood disorders can take a toll on your bones. Long term medications for the same also have side-effects on the bones.

How to prevent osteoporosis?

  1. Exercise- As young boys, men have usually been exposed to a lot of bone building exercises through sports. This helps in building up on the bone strength and comes in handy in the later years. A brisk walk for 30 minutes 5 times a week and moderate impact exercises help in maintain the bone mass and reduce the thinning of bones.
  2. Calcium intake- The daily calcium needs for men is the same as women. Hence, the dietary recommendations remain the same too.
    1,000 mg of calcium a day from ages 19 to 50 and 1200 mg of calcium a day if you're over 50.
    Along with this, make sure you get the required dose of vitamin D too, so that the calcium you eat is absorbed properly. The standard recommended dietary allowance is 400 IU. Some doctors advise to increase the intake to 800 IU.
  3. Regular medical checkups will help you to know beforehand about the risk factors and the necessary precautions you will need to take.
    Osteoporosis in men is as much a reality as in women. However, there are ways to avoid it too. Awareness about the condition and about the ways to prevent it can help keep osteoporosis at bay.

Bone mass matters. It could mean the difference between a hip fracture later in life - or keeping an active, high-energy lifestyle.


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