Osteoporosis Puts Men At Risk For Hip Fracture

Because osteoporosis is often considered a woman’s health issue, men can go undiagnosed and untreated for this bone disease, leaving them vulnerable to fractures and disability. We explain men’s osteoporosis risks, and what men can do to protect their bone health.

 

Our bones are constantly changing; over the course of our lives, old bone is removed and replaced by new bone. During our youth, we produce more bone than we lose, causing bones to grow in size and strength until bone mass peaks in our 30s. Afterwards, our bone mass declines as the removal of old bone exceeds the formation of new bone and our absorption of calcium decreases.

Osteoporosis is progressive bone loss that causes weak, fragile bones. This silent disease develops without symptoms, causing the skeleton to weaken until a fracture occurs. Men typically accumulate more bone than women, and lose bone more slowly—until age 65 or 70. These factors have caused many to view osteoporosis as a woman’s disease. However, men and women lose bone at an equal rate after 65 or 70, and some lifestyle habits put men at additional risk.

New data published in October 2014 by the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) underscores the serious health risks of osteoporosis for men. One in five men over the age of 50 will suffer an osteoporotic fracture, and this number is predicted to rise as the population ages. One-third of all hip fractures worldwide occur in men, who have a 37 percent risk of dying in the first year after a fracture. To put it another way, men are twice as likely as women to die after suffering a hip fracture.

The IOF warns that because men often go undiagnosed and untreated for bone loss, they are left vulnerable to early death and disability. In the United States, the number of hip fractures in men is expected to increase to 51.8 percent between 2010 and 2030, while hip fractures among women are expected to decrease by 3.5 percent.

Osteoporotic experts encourage health systems and male patients to expand their focus on preventing cancer and heart disease to include attention to bone, muscle, and joint diseases. Resources are available to help identify men at risk and avoid a cascade of broken bones. Simply identifying osteoporotic men after their first bone break could dramatically reduce their risk of future fractures and early death. Currently, less than 20 percent of men suffering a fracture are being assessed and treated for osteoporosis.

By proactively monitoring bone health as men age, we can support a better quality of life and reduce the incidence of osteoporotic fracture and its accompanying risks.

 

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