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Men: If Any of These 7 Things Are True, You Should Get Screened for Osteoporosis

July 23, 2018

By Brianna McCabe

Sticks and stones may break your bones… especially if you have osteoporosis.

As defined by the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone density and the bones begin to thin. As a result, the bones weaken and become more fragile. Individuals with osteoporosis – which literally means “porous bone” – are more prone to breaks from incidents as minor as a simple sneeze to as serious as a tumble down a flight of stairs.

The bad news? If you are a woman, you are at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis. In fact, the NOF determined that of the estimated 10 million Americans with osteoporosis, about 8 million, or 80%, are women.

Vicki DeNoia, MSN, RN, APN, a provider at Hackensack Meridian Health Medical Group with more than 15 years of evaluating, diagnosing, and treating osteoporosis, says that females are at a greater risk because their bones are much less dense than those of males. Furthermore, the bones of women naturally begin to thin around the post-menopausal stages, which is typically around the age of 50. “When estrogen leaves the body, bones begin to have a rapid breakdown,” explains DeNoia.

Secondary factors that can lead to osteoporosis include excessive alcohol use, thyroid problems, the presence of other diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis), and the use of certain medications (like steroids).

While women are at a much higher risk of developing osteoporosis, men can still develop the same destructive bone disease – especially after the age of 70. However, DeNoia warns that men often aren’t screened or diagnosed with osteoporosis until they have a fracture. (In fact, the NOF states that up to 1 in 4 males over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.) But even then, DeNoia warns that the fracture may not prompt a referral to diagnose and treat the disease.

“The population needs to be educated that osteoporosis exists – in both sexes,” explains DeNoia. “The disease should be suspected in all fall and fracture cases for patients over the age of 50 until it is ruled out. The fact of the matter is, nobody should be breaking bones from a simple fall.”

DeNoia advises that men should ask their health care provider to screen them for osteoporosis if one or more of the following is true:

1. You are over the age of 70

2. You’ve experienced a loss of more than 1 inch in height over the past year

3. You are managing a chronic disease such as kidney, lung, or gastrointestinal disease, prostate cancer or certain autoimmune disorders

4. You are taking high-risk medications

5. There is a family history of osteoporosis

6. You have low testosterone levels

7. You have unhealthy habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol use, inadequate exercise, or low calcium intake

“Bone health starts early in life,” shares DeNoia. “Most people forget about their bones because you can’t see them. Make sure to get enough Vitamin D, eat a nutritious diet with sufficient calcium, and try to stay as active as possible.”

Vicki DeNoia practices at Hackensack Meridian Health Medical Group – Primary Care in Eatontown (2-12 Corbett Way, Suite 102). If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be at risk for osteoporosis, click here to schedule an appointment, call 732-263-7965 or visit HackensackMeridianHealth.org to find a primary care physician near you.

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