Men and Osteoporosis: Risks, Testing, and Prevention

Sunrise Senior Living  |  March 8, 2019

Many people believe osteoporosis, a disease in which bones become weaker and more brittle, only affects older women. It’s true that osteoporosis is linked to falls and fractures among elderly females. One in three women over the age of 50 will suffer an osteoporotic fracture at some point in her life.

However, one in five men will also experience an osteoporotic fracture. The difference is these fractures can be deadlier for men. In fact, complications and mortality rates from hip fracture are three times higher among men than women.

Why Are Older Men at Risk for Osteoporosis?                                    

If you are an older man or the adult child of one, learning a few common risk factors is important. They include:

  • high alcohol consumption
  • smoking
  • low body mass index (BMI)
  • family history of the disease.

Medications can also contribute to bone loss. They include proton pump inhibitors (such as Prilosec and Nexium), cortisone, prednisone, and heparin.

While not all risk factors for osteoporosis are preventable, there are steps older men can take to reduce their risk.

5 Tips for Preventing Osteoporosis in Men

  1. Eat a healthy diet: Nutrition plays a role in managing weight and maintaining a healthy BMI. A healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and protein may help prevent osteoporosis.
  2. Limit alcohol: Heavy alcohol consumption is linked to higher rates of bone loss in older men. For most older men, drinking more than two glasses of alcohol a day can increase the risk for developing osteoporosis.
  3. Stop smoking: Researchers believe that smoking contributes to fractures. Smokers are at a 29 percent greater risk for suffering a fragility fracture and a 68 percent higher risk for a hip fracture.
  4. Stay active: A sedentary lifestyle can also adversely affect your odds of getting osteoporosis. Most health experts say you should exercise at least 150 minutes a week. Older adults who sit more than nine hours a day have a 50 percent greater risk for experiencing a fracture than their peers who sit for six hours a day or less.
  5. Monitor vitamin D and calcium intake: Many seniors don’t get enough vitamin D and calcium. When the body is starved for these vital nutrients, it begins to leach them from the bones. If your physician hasn’t tested your vitamin D levels, talk with them to see what your personal risk factors might be.

Testing for Osteoporosis

If you are concerned you or a senior in your life might have osteoporosis or osteopenia, the precursor to osteoporosis, talk with your physician. They may want to order a bone density scan.

This simple, noninvasive X-ray can assess the density of your bones and your risk for fractures. The procedure takes only minutes and is usually covered by Medicare and private insurance.

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