Men also get osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a major problem, but in modern society it is very much thought of as a woman’s problem. Certainly, over two million women are believed to be suffering from osteoporosis in the UK at the moment and most advertisements for supplements to help combat osteoporosis feature women.
It is true that women are at greater risk. Women generally have not built up as much bone density and strength as men during their lifetime, and they also lose bone material more quickly than men, especially after the menopause when their levels of oestrogen drop. But nevertheless men can and do also suffer from this disease. While men don’t normally experience the same rapid bone loss in their 50s as women do, when they are in their late sixties or seventies, they will be losing bone mass at the same rate as women.
Also, men have a significantly longer life expectancy than in previous generations, which can add to their risk of developing osteoporosis.
It is estimated that one man in five in the UK suffers one or more bone fractures because of the disease.
There are a number of factors that can put a man at risk. If he has osteoporosis in the family, then that is definitely a warning sign to keep check. Taking steroids, over consumption of alcohol, suffering from prostate cancer or other certain medical conditions can also lead to greater risk.
Testosterone and estrogen are hormones that help you maintain strong bones. Some men lose testosterone as they age. Others may develop low testosterone levels after receiving androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) to treat prostate cancer. Estrogen is also present in small amounts in men. Low levels of either of these hormones can contribute to bone loss and osteoporosis in men.
Most men only find they have osteoporosis after they break a bone and are officially tested in hospital. However, you may be entitled to a free test, especially if there is any cause to believe you might be particularly prone to developing the disease.
Of course the best thing is to prevent the development of osteoporosis. For men, they may well have played vigorous sport in their youth, but by the time they reach their 50s and 60s it is far more likely that their exercise regime has fallen to a low level.
Doing regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises are very important to help maintain healthy bones. Weight bearing exercises means you are working against gravity while standing up and can include a range of activities from simple brisk walking and jogging to playing tennis or soccer. Cycling or swimming are not weight-bearing exercises because the main mass of your weight is supported either by the cycle frame or the water.
Many modern gyms are now geared towards the over 50s and have fully informed professionals who can put a good exercise regime in place for you to help maintain strong bone density.
There are other aspects you can do to help prevent the onset of osteoporosis such as ensuring you obtain adequate levels of calcium and vitamin D and avoiding excess alcohol. Smoking, as with so many diseases, is a no no.
Next time you see your medical practitioner, it might be worthwhile mentioning osteoporosis. He or she will then be able to discuss the disease with you and the potential of having a bone density test so that you know your personal risk.
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