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Osteoporosis and Men

Osteoporosis is often a silent disease, not detected until a bone fracture. It is a disease in which the density and quality of bone are reduced, so bones are more fragile and likely to break.

Although osteoporosis affects fewer men than women, it remains underdiagnosed and underreported in men. Previous studies suggest that men have worse outcomes after a fracture than do women, possibly because they are typically older or have additional medical problems, such as heart disease.

“A bone density test such as a DXA scan is a great tool to determine if men have osteoporosis or are at risk for fractures,” suggests Deborah Sellmeyer, M.D., medical director of the Johns Hopkins Metabolic Bone Center. The Center’s experts prevent, diagnose and treat bone diseases such as osteoporosis in men and women, fragility and recurrent fractures and other skeletal disorders.

Some of the risk factors for osteoporosis in men include:

• Older age
• Family or personal history of fractures
• Losing too much calcium in the urine
• Previous or current steroid use
• Low level of testosterone

Men can take steps to prevent osteoporosis. “The cornerstone of prevention is nutrition and exercise,” notes Dr. Sellmeyer. “Men need more protein in their diet than women do and may not always get enough. Eating enough fruit and vegetables is also important. Plus, men should be sure they are getting the right amount of calcium and vitamin D.”

Those specific recommendations vary by patient. The general recommendation is to get 1000 IU (international units) of vitamin D and 1200 mg of calcium each day. It also is important to include weight bearing activity and strength training in your daily activities.

To learn about your fracture risk and bone health, having a DXA scan is the first step. It is painless and non-invasive, with no patient preparation needed.

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