Not Just a "Women's Disease"

By the numbers, osteoporosis affects many more women than men. However, experts now urge doctors to test men for brittle bones because the dangerous condition is both underdiagnosed and undertreated. 25% of all fractures happen to men, and 1 in 4 men over the age of 50 will break a bone because their spines, hips, ankles or wrists are brittle.

The call to action comes from researchers for the American College of Rheumatology who studied 10,000 men aged 61 to 75. Analysis showed only 6% of those who suffered a fracture had been diagnosed or tested for osteoporosis before their injury. Why? Experts say older men often have other underlying conditions that are more symptomatic, especially heart disease. Osteoporosis is asymptomatic, and often goes undetected until a man shows up with a fracture.

The most susceptible men have a history of muscle or skeletal pain and use opioids, take medicine for arthritis or asthma, drink or smoke, and are low weight. If you are over age 70, ask your doctor for a DEXA test. It is similar to an x-ray and painless. Otherwise, strengthen your bones by consuming enough calcium and vitamin D, found in low fat dairy, dark green, leafy vegetables, salmon and tofu. Weight bearing exercise like walking and jogging, is also effective.

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