Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to weaken and break.
It develops slowly over several years and is often only diagnosed when a minor fall causes a bone fracture or broken bone.
It is a condition generally associated with women, who are at an increased risk of developing the disease.
However, it is also estimated that 12 million American men are at risk for osteoporosis, with most being unaware of it.
In fact, men tend to be older when they get osteoporosis, and as a result, the complications from broken bones can be more serious for them.
Keep reading to learn seven osteoporosis risk factors men should be aware of.
7 Factors That Raise A Man’s Risk Of Osteoporosis
When it comes to developing osteoporosis, the main risk factor for men is age. Research shows that by the age of 50, men start to steadily lose bone at around 0.5 to 1 percent a year. Women tend to develop the condition earlier, usually due to menopause.
However, although men do not experience the same rapid rate of bone loss in their fifties, by the time they hit 70, men and women lose bone mass at the same rate. This occurs as the absorption of calcium, an essential nutrient for bone health throughout life, decreases in both sexes.
2) Decline in testosterone
As men age, their testosterone levels start to decline, usually when they reach their forties. Many studies have reviewed the relationship between low testosterone levels and a decrease in bone density, with age-related testosterone deficiency being an important factor of bone loss, especially in older men.
One retrospective review of bone mineral density scans performed on 235 men with low testosterone levels whose mean age was 50.7 years found osteopenia in 39% of all patients and osteoporosis in 5%. All of the men in the review had physical symptoms of hypogonadism and total testosterone levels below 300 ng/dL.
Further studies have also established a link between low levels of testosterone and low levels of bone density, strongly suggesting that bone growth and maintenance are significantly influenced by testosterone.
Several studies indiciate that men who receive hormone deprivation therapy for prostate cancer have a greater risk of developing osteoporosis. Hormones such as testosterone protect against bone loss. So, once these hormones are blocked, the bone becomes less dense and can break more easily.
This may be something to consider before undergoing hormone therapy treatments, particularly if you have or are at an increased risk of osteoporosis.
Smoking affects your health in many ways and has also been raised as a risk factor for osteoporosis. Studies have shown a direct relationship between tobacco use and decreased bone density.
Following this, it has been shown to affect the metabolism of hormones, body weight, vitamin D levels, the ability to absorb calcium, and blood circulation. As a result, smoking disrupts healthy bone health, impacting bone formation and thereby increasing the risk of osteoporosis.
Consequently, research shows smokers have a 25% increase in fracture risk and are nearly twice as likely to experience hip fractures.
The link between heavy alcohol consumption and osteoporosis has long been established. According to some experts, three or more drinks a day puts you at increased risk for osteoporosis.
In one small but significant study, men who had experienced alcoholism had a statistically significant bone loss at three main sites: lumbar spine, femoral neck, and ward’s triangle.
Studies show that excessive drinking impairs bone health, interfering with the balance of calcium as well as impairing the production of vitamin D, a vitamin essential for calcium absorption.
Moreover, heavy drinking has also been linked to hormone deficiency in men and women. As a result, men who drink excessively produce less testosterone. And, as discussed earlier, low testosterone production is a risk factor for osteoporosis.
5) Not getting enough calcium
Calcium is essential for maintaining good bone health, and a lack of the mineral can increase your risk of osteoporosis. Our bodies cannot produce their own calcium, so it is important to consume calcium-rich foods.
Maintaining a calcium intake of at least 1000-1200 mg/day has long been recommended for older individuals to treat and prevent osteoporosis.
6) Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, plays an important role in bone health. Research shows that inadequate vitamin D intake over a long period can result in bone demineralization and decreased calcium absorption.
One study trialed over 300 elderly females who had supplemented with vitamin D3 over two years. The results showed significant improvements in bone mineral density.
The findings are supported by a further study. This study reported significant benefits after only five weeks in participants with vitamin D deficiency and either osteoporosis or osteopenia.
7) Lack of exercise
An inadequate level of exercise can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis. Research has shown that men who exercise regularly generally achieve greater peak bone mass (maximum bone density and strength) than those who do not.
For most people, bone mass peaks during the third decade of life, and after that time, it begins to decrease. Exercising allows you to maintain muscle strength, coordination, and balance, which helps prevent falls and related fractures. This becomes especially important as men age.
Therefore, maintaining a weight-bearing exercise regime is a must. A five-year study conducted by the Centre for Bone and Arthritis Research has demonstrated that when it comes to protecting men’s bones, the superior sports are:
These are all weight-bearing sports that may reduce a man’s risk of developing osteoporosis later in life. The researchers suggested that spending just four hours per week playing a load-bearing sport helped the men increase their hip bone density by 1.3% throughout the study.
This was especially significant when compared against the result of sedentary men. Results showed that they lost as much as 2.1% of their hip bone density over the same period.
While osteoporosis is a condition that more often affects women, it is overlooked in men. Men experiencing prostate health problems and considering hormone therapy are especially at risk.
Taking steps such as making changes to your diet to include sources of vitamin D and calcium, reducing alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, and partaking in weight-bearing exercises could help to reduce your risk.