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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Can men have osteoporosis?

    I always hear of osteoporosis being a woman's disease - can men get it too?
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  • Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    Men can get osteoporosis.

    Most people don't think that men develop osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a  disease, in which bone becomes thin and fragile and can therefore fracture easily, and it  is mostly associated with women. Generally doctors do not discuss osteoporosis with their male patients. But men can get the hip and other bone fractures that come with osteoporosis, too, and it's no less painful or debilitating for them than it is for women.

    Diagnosis of osteoporosis in men usually only occurs when they have fractured a bone. Men don't generally experience the rapid bone loss in their 50's that women do as they don't have the hormnal changes women go through, but by age 65 or 70, they are losing bone mass at the same rate as women.

    Hip fractures occur at older ages in men, which might explain why men who break a hip are more likely to die of complications than women. Approximately a half of men that suffer from hip fractures go to a nursing home to be cared for.

    Osteoporosis might become more common as Vitamin D deficiency is becoming more common. In addition, men don't get sent for regular bone denisty scans as postmenopausal women are - so there are no preventative measures in place for men.

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    Thanks

    Craig Allingham

    Exercise Scientist, Physiotherapist

    Sports Physiotherapist for over 30 years, now more interested in teaching. Men's Health is my only clinical interest and not just the dangly bits. I … View Profile

    Absolutely. In fact, one in three Australian men will develop osteoporosis.  And it will sneak up on them unseen and unfelt.  The presentation may not occur until over 60 years or so, however the condition begins much earlier in life. Retention of bone mass depends on many factors and is influenced by hormone changes, nutrition deficiency and inactivity. Bone mass relies on retention of muscle mass as it is the deformation of bone under loading that provokes mineral deposition. Men can lose around 2% of their muscle mass per year after the age of 27 unless their work, recreation or sport activities counter this.  General activity, even gardening, walking and swimming (for eg) will not counter this decline. Resistance training or heavy manual work is required.  Strong muscles develope strong bones AND provide padding in case you fall!  Double benefit to prevent fractures.

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