Not for women only: Osteoporosis in men

(July 21, 2003) Philadelphia, PA According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, men over 50 are at greater risk of osteoporosis-related fracture than they are for prostate cancer. One in eight such men will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture and among Caucasian men 65 years of age and older, some 80 percent of their hip fractures will be attributable to osteoporosis. Mortality in men one year after a hip fracture is nearly twice as high as it is for women. Given these data coupled with the aging of the baby boomers, the National Institutes of Health (Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases) in 1999 earmarked nearly $24 million for a mult-year, multi-site study of males over 65 in an effort to identify the prevalence and primary male risk factors for the disease.

Male Osteoporosis: More Common Than We Think
Male osteoporosis is more common than most believe, probably due to the fact that it is under-diagnosed by physicians who have not traditionally considered it a part of the "Male Health Profile." The disease, which causes bones to become brittle thus making them susceptible to breaking, appears in men as it does in women: with a fracture. As is the case for women, earliest diagnosis is through a bone density test. However, until the prevalence of male osteoporosis is better known, male bone density screening for men 50 years of age is not currently recommended.

Secondary Risk Factors
Alcohol (and smoking to a lesser degree) tends, in higher doses, to damage the liver, which can effect Vitamin D metabolism, as well as suppress the production of male hormone in the testes. Alcohol probably damages bone through a direct negative effect on the bone forming cells. Nutrition is a secondary factor. Those who are malnourished have very low bone density.

Presentation at the 55th Annual Meeting of the AACC
Clifford J. Rosen, M.D. is the Director of the Maine Center for Oste

Contact: Donna Krupa
American Association for Clinical Chemistry

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