Osteoporosis in Men

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Osteoporosis is a disease that makes your bones thin, brittle, and easy to break. It's related to the loss of bone mass that happens as a natural part of aging. It's most common in women who have gone through menopause, but it can also occur in men.

Factors that make a man more likely to get osteoporosis include some things that you can change and others that you can't change.

Risk factors you can't change include:

  • Your age. Your risk goes up as you get older.
  • Loss of the male hormone testosterone. As you age, your body makes less of this hormone. Some medical treatments, like using corticosteroids or taking medicines to treat prostate cancer, can also lower the level of testosterone in your body.
  • Low estrogen levels. Evidence suggests that low levels of estrogen in men can lead to bone loss.
  • Certain diseases of the:
    • Hormone (endocrine) system. These include Cushing's syndrome, hyperparathyroidism, and hyperthyroidism.
    • Stomach and intestines (gastrointestinal diseases). These diseases include malabsorption, Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and chronic liver disease.
  • Having a slender body frame.
  • Your family background. Osteoporosis tends to run in families.

Your race. People of European and Asian background are most likely to get osteoporosis.

Risk factors you can change include:

  • Not getting enough calcium and vitamin D.
  • Smoking.
  • Not getting enough weight-bearing exercise.
  • Drinking too much alcohol. Heavy alcohol use (more than 2 drinks a day) can decrease bone formation. It also makes you more likely to fall.
  • Taking medicines that can affect bone growth and repair. Your doctor can tell you if you are taking any of these medicines. He or she can also help you understand if the benefit of the medicine is greater than the risk.

Some experts suggest that older men talk to their doctors about osteoporosis and have bone density tests if they are at risk.

Treatment for osteoporosis in men may include adopting healthy habits and taking medicine to reduce bone loss and to build bone thickness.

Medicines used to prevent or treat the disease include:

  • Bisphosphonates. Examples are alendronate (Fosamax), risedronate (Actonel), and zoledronic acid (Reclast).
  • Denosumab (Prolia).
  • Parathyroid hormone (teriparatide [Forteo]).

You can also help yourself by not smoking, having a diet that gives you enough calcium and vitamin D, and getting plenty of weight-bearing exercise. This includes walking, jogging, and lifting weights.

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