Osteoporosis, a disease that causes weakening of the bones, is most common in women than in men. But it can also affect men.
In fact, men in their 70s are as likely to have osteoporosis as women in their 50s. As the number of men living into their 70s and beyond increases, osteoporosis is becoming more common among men. One man in four can expect to break a bone because of osteoporosis after the age of 50.
Should men approach osteoporosis differently?
Being aware of the possibility of osteoporosis is important for men. Women may realize that they have a risk of the disease after menopause and may choose to have bone density tests or to discuss lifestyle changes with their doctors. Men may not think about it.
Often, the first symptom of osteoporosis is a broken bone. Men who take a proactive approach to bone health may be able to avoid osteoporosis.
Many of the same actions will reduce men’s and women’s chances of developing osteoporosis:
- Stop smoking, or don’t start
- Exercise regularly
- Limit alcohol
- Eat foods containing calcium and Vitamin D
However, recent research suggests that men and women may have different sets of risk factors. For men, low levels of testosterone, chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, and gastrointestinal disease can all be significant risk factors.
Ask your doctor
Have a conversation about osteoporosis with your primary care physician. Bone density tests are not routinely recommended for men. However, a bone mineral density test (BMD) or dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry screening (DXA) may be appropriate for men over 70, or for men who have already had a bone fracture.
A DEXA bone density test is a non-invasive, painless screening that uses a very low level of radiation to check the density of bones. It usually is done at the hip and lower back. The most common purpose of the screening is to diagnose osteoporosis. It can also predict the risk of fractures. Bone Density tests are offered at MANA Imaging inside Fayetteville Diagnostic Clinic.
Your physician will be able to advise you on whether you need this type of test. You can also get advice on lifestyle choices that will reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis.