You didn’t read that title wrong – osteoporosis is not a disease that only affects women. It may affect women to a larger extent but that doesn’t really matter when you consider that 10 million Americans have osteoporosis. 20% of that 10 million are men, which mean that there are 2 million American men living with osteoporosis. Not only that, but the rate of osteoporosis is increasing, demonstrated by 5 times more doctors visits over the last 10 years.
Consider these numbers if you don’t think osteoporosis is a risk for you:
- 25% of men age 50 and older will have an osteoporosis related fracture in their lifetime
- 80,000 men have a hip fracture each year
- One-third of men with a hip fracture will die within a year of the injury
Falling Testosterone Increase Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis risk for men needs to be taken seriously. Testosterone is a major player in the development of osteoporosis. As men age, they have lower amounts of testosterone in their bodies and low amounts of testosterone are associated with osteoporosis. Low testosterone in older males is natural, but having excess fat can further decrease testosterone levels. Men who are affected with prostate cancer and go through androgen deprivation therapy, which purposefully decreases testosterone levels, have a significantly higher risk of osteoporosis.
Bone Destroying Medications
Bone destroying medications also play a large role in osteoporosis in men. Many drugs have been associated with an increased risk of fracture – most notably steroids, proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) and selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Proton-pump inhibitors are used long term to treat ulcers and acid reflux and are the third highest selling class of drug in the U.S. A recent study has shown a 44% increase in hip fracture risk with high-dose PPIs taken for more than a year and that the risk increases the longer the drug is taken – risk increased in long-term, high-dose users by 245%! SSRI use has been associated with lower bone mineral density and a more than two-fold increased risk of non-vertebral fracture. Eliminating the need for these medications is the key to long term health.
Reducing the Risk
There are many ways a man can reduce his risk of developing osteoporosis. Maintaining a healthy weight will help keep testosterone levels from falling further as men age. Medications should be examined to see if they could be increasing your risk; talk with your doctor about this and investigate other options.
Supplementation may be a good fit for you. Calcium supplementation improves bone mineral density. Vitamin D can be a good addition to calcium because it helps you absorb the calcium from your digestive tract. It has also been found that vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of bone fracture by 24% and significantly reduces bone mass loss. Studies have also shown that vitamin K supplementation can decrease the breakdown of bone. Lastly ipriflavone (a synthetic soy isoflavone) and the mineral strontium have been shown to improve formation of bone.
Other ways to decrease the risk of osteoporosis are:
- stay active in your daily life
- don’t smoke
- use alcohol in moderation
- use caffeine in moderation
- don’t exceed recommended daily values for protein and sodium and/or switch to vegetable sources of protein
Take these steps now to prevent male osteoporosis, and feel free to contact us with questions or to learn more.