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1 in 4 Men Will Get This Women's Disease

A lot of men think osteoporosis is something they don't have to worry about, but 1 in 4 men will get some form of bone degenerative disease. Reduce your risk by following the guidelines below.
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You’ve heard of osteoporosis, the bone disease that weakens the bones and makes fractures and other dangerous bone issues likely. According to the National Institute of health, although osteoporosis is commonly considered a “women’s disease” over 2 million men are at risk for developing osteoporosis. Both men and women should work to protect their bone health to avoid dangerous health complications.

About 80,000 men suffer from osteoporosis-related fractures each year. Close to 23,000 men die each year from fracture-related health complications. If more men paid attention to their risks of developing osteoporosis, it is possible that some health risks and even deaths could be prevented.

Some Doctors Ignore Osteoporosis Signs in Men

A 2008 study published in Canadian Family Physician showed that many doctors do not screen for osteoporosis in men. The study looked at 20 practices in Canada and a total of 565 men over the age of 65. The purpose of the study was to determine how common bone density scans were for men over the age of 65. According to the study, only about 20 percent of men were screened with a bone mineral density scan (BMD). In some practices, they did not scan the bones of men at all. Scan rates varied between 0 and 38 percent for men over the age of 65. Most practices increased the scan rates for men over the age of 75, and the highest rates of scanning occurred with men over the age of 85. According to the scans, 15 percent showed signs of osteoporosis, and 41 percent showed signs of osteopenia (which is lowered bone density that has yet to reach osteoporosis levels).

The fact that so few men receive scans is surprising. Over 12 million men are at risk for developing the disease, according to the National Institute of Health. After age 50, the NIH estimates that 6 percent of men will get an osteoporosis-related hip fracture and 5 percent will see a spinal fracture because of the disease. These are serious health risks that can damage a man’s quality of life as he ages just as much as a woman’s. It is important that the risks of male osteoporosis not be ignored.

Why Osteoporosis Affects Women More

Osteoporosis does affect women more than men. While about one in four men are at risk for osteoporosis, one in two women are at risk. The reason for this is simply based on the differences in development and hormones between men and women. Women reach peak bone mass at the age of 18, while men do not reach peak bone mass until age 20. Women develop less bone mass than men until the age of 30, when both men and women stop building new bone mass. Estrogen and progesterone are also used to regulate bone mass and health. Women have higher estrogen levels, and during menopause, the estrogen and progesterone levels in a woman drop dramatically. This leads to a quick deterioration in bone muscle mass. Pregnancy can also pull calcium and other vital nutrients from a woman’s bones.

About 68 percent of osteoporosis cases are women. However, 32 percent of cases are men, and men may be at higher risk for osteoporosis complications due to the lack of attention paid to male osteoporosis. Women also typically live longer than men, which also contributes to an increase in loss of bone density. Men also lose bone density at the same rate as women after the age of 70.

Why Men Have Reduced Risk

Typically, there are a few reasons why men have a lower rate of seeing osteoporosis in their lifetime. The shorter average age for men, is one contributing factor. Men do not start to lose bone density rapidly until the age of 70, according to the National Institute of Health.

A man’s lifestyle may also protect him from the disease. In general, men remain more physically active as they age. This can help prevent bone density loss. However, in a 2006 study conducted by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine of 57 men living in a nursing home, 61 percent of individuals with osteopenic and osteoporotic signs were overweight. This indicates that an inactive lifestyle in men leads to an increase in bone density loss over time.

Men also maintain stable hormone levels throughout life. Hormones, like testosterone and estrogen, are linked to bone health, although researchers have yet to identify how the two areas are related.

Risk Factors for Men

Although only one in four men are likely contenders for osteoporosis, there is a clear link between certain lifestyle habits and an increase in bone density loss. These factors include:

Low activity

Without exercise, bones lose their health faster. Weight-bearing exercises are the most effective for restoring bone health. Prolonged illnesses can also lead to sudden loss of bone density in men. Walking, jogging, and lifting weights are ideal exercises for men looking to protect their bone health.

Smoking

Smoking can lead to a reduction in bone health. Tobacco, chemicals commonly found in cigarettes, and nicotine block calcium absorption or directly cause bone loss (scientific studies are unclear about the exact link). Men who smoke have higher rates of hip and spine fractures, and from a younger age. Smokers have a 55 percent increased chance of getting osteoporosis.

Alcohol abuse

Alcohol abuse can lead to a decrease in bone density and increase in fractures. Men who seek medical help for alcohol abuse often show lowed bone density. Treatment for alcohol abuse and bone health typically includes a cessation of alcohol consumption and an increase of calcium-rich foods.

Testosterone deficiency

Lowered testosterone levels and other sex-related hormones can lead to bone density loss. Abnormally low sex hormone levels are known as hypogonadism. Any sudden drop in testosterone can lead to a sudden loss in bone density, much like menopause in women. Glucocorticoids, cancer treatments, and some other medications can cause sudden drops in testosterone levels. Estrogen deficiency can also lead to bone density loss in men. Less is known about the role of estrogen in males, but new studies are finding that it plays a larger role in a man’s health than thought in the past.

Medications

Certain medications are known to lower bone density in males. Particular culprits include Glucocorticoids, medication for seizures, and medications for prostate cancer. Glucocorticoids are used to treat asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. These medications have a direct effect on bones, muscles, reduced absorption of calcium, and a decrease in testosterone levels. All of these side effects quickly lead to a loss of bone health, especially in the ribs and vertebrae. Any man on these medications should receive frequent BMD tests. Doctors can reduce these side effects by discontinuing use of the medication, using smaller doses, or inserting the medication through the skin.

Other Disorders

A variety of other disorders and conditions can also lead to a rapid drop in bone density. Rheumatoid arthritis, blood disorders, digestive disorders, and cystic fibrosis can also lead to a sudden drop in bone density.

Preventing Male Osteoporosis

To prevent osteoporosis from developing, men should be aware that the condition can easily happen to them, especially if they meet one of the above criteria for sudden drops in bone density. The best way to prevent osteoporosis from developing is to watch for the early signs of development and take steps to protect your bone health. You can protect your bone health in the following ways:

Remove Bone Loss Factors

If you engage in any of the above activities or are taking medications associated with bone loss, you may want to stop, or take additional measures to protect your bone health. Most doctors are aware of the link between certain medications and bone density loss, and may recommend bone-building supplements or medications to protect the health of your bones. You may also want to try getting off the medications and addressing these health concerns through diet, exercise, and herbal supplements to protect the health of your bones, particularly if you are over the age of 50.

Exercise Regularly

According to some doctors, only about 35 percent of men are exercising as much as they should to protect their bone density and overall health. Exercise of about 30 minutes a day is recommended for men. Bone-building exercises include walking, jogging, and weight lifting. Other forms of exercise can be helpful to prevent weight gain and improve muscle mass along with bone health.

Eat for Bone Health

There are plenty of foods out there that help build strong bones and prevent the loss of bone health. By adding these foods and supplements to your diet, you can help maintain strong bones for life. In case you were wondering, milk is not the only food that will help bones stay strong. There are actually many foods that provide essential nutrients for bone health.

Eat These Foods for Healthy Bones
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Meat
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Fish
  • Dark Greens
  • Bone broth
  • Calcium supplements
  • Vitamin D supplements

Oranges: Most people think that oranges are good for building the immune system because of vitamin C, but oranges are also high in calcium. In fact, one orange holds about 174 mg of potassium (also good for bones), 35 mg of calcium, and 10 mg of magnesium (necessary for calcium absorption).

Dairy: Dairy products are touted for their calcium-containing ingredients. One cup of milk holds about 300 mg of calcium, 97.6 IU of vitamin D, 366 mg of potassium, and 24.4 Mg of magnesium. Other calcium-rich dairy products include cheese, yogurt, and cream.

Fish: Fish are an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D, particularly if you eat the bones. For example, canned sardines with bones contain 405 IU of vitamin D, 592 Mg of potassium, and 569 Mg of calcium (which is over half the daily recommended value).

Dark greens: Dark greens contain many healthy ingredients that promote bone health. Broccoli, kale, spinach, mustard greens, and okra contain about 90 mg of calcium per serving.

Fruits: Many fruits are high in calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, and potassium. Some of the best fruits to eat for bone health include bananas, papayas, prunes, strawberries, and raisins.

Vegetables: Most vegetables are high in ingredients that build bone health like potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Some of the best vegetables include: sweet potatoes, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, and peppers.

Meats: Some meat contains vitamin D naturally. Meats that usually contain vitamin D include liver, fish, and pork. Drinking broth made from bones is also high in calcium. 

Eggs: Eggs can also contain vitamin D, particularly if the chicken ate vitamin D-rich foods.

Calcium and vitamin D supplements: Many doctors recommend that adults also take a calcium and vitamin D supplement to ensure they get enough levels in the blood and bones. For men under the age of 50, 1,000 mg of calcium per day is enough. Men over the age of 50 should take 1,200 mg of calcium each day. Men of any age should get between 800 and 1,200 mg of vitamin D each day from supplements or foods. Going outdoors in the sun can also help provide the body with vitamin D. Typically, staying outdoors for at least 10-30 minutes a day is necessary to get enough vitamin D from that source.

Screen for Bone Health

It is important to watch for signs of bone loss and osteoporosis early on. If you are over the age of 50, it is important to screen for bone health every couple of years. Ask your doctor to give you a BMD test at your well-visits. This will help you monitor the health of your bones and may prevent dangerous surprises in the future. If you catch osteoporosis early, you may be able to prevent further density loss by engaging in an active lifestyle and taking bone-healing supplements. Many doctors do not suggest a BMD test for men until the age of 70, but early detection is key to protect the health of your bones.

Watch for Danger Signs

There are some signs that can indicate a lowered bone density. A sudden drop in sex drive or sex hormones could lead to lowered bone density. According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, breaks in the foot bones can be a sign of osteoporosis. The porous nature of bones can lead to some foot complications in early osteroporosis. Foot bone fractures are common because feet continually bear weight. Frequent pain in the feet could indicate a stress fracture in the foot, which is an early sign for osteoporosis in both men and women. Symptoms of early osteoporosis include pain while walking combined with redness and swelling at the top of the foot. Shoes that offer good cushioning and support will help protect the feet from stress fractures when bone density is weak.

If you pay attention to foot bone health, you could catch the early signs of osteoporosis before the danger is irreparable.

Keeping Men Safe from the Dangers of Osteoporosis

Although men are at a lower risk naturally for osteoporosis, there are still plenty of dangers out there for men, particularly for men who do not lead a healthy lifestyle. The best way for a man to lower his chances of getting osteoporosis is with a healthy lifestyle that includes foods rich in calcium, vitamin D, and other vitamins and minerals for bone health; with exercise of at least 30 minutes a day; with careful screening; and the avoidance of common risk factors like smoking, alcohol abuse and bone-eating medications. If you follow these steps, you will have a higher chance of keeping healthy, strong bones for the rest of your life.

Sources


http://www.ajc.com/news/lifestyles/health/not-just-a-womens-disease-osteoporosis-strikes-men/nbJSP/

http://www.sacbee.com/2013/10/14/5819757/is-your-foot-fracture-an-early.html

http://www.cfp.ca/content/54/8/1140.full

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