March 23, 2020

Osteoporosis in Men

We think of osteoporosis (brittle bones) as being a disease affecting older women. But, osteoporosis in men occurs as well. In fact, one-third of all hip fractures occur in men. These osteoporotic fractures tend to be more severe and more fatal in men.

osteoporosis in men
Photo by Craig Whitehead on Unsplash

The good news is, as in women, there are action steps that can be taken to prevent osteoporosis in men. These interventions are the same as in women and include:

  • increased physical activity.
  • weight-bearing exercises and resistance training.
  • proper intake of calcium, vitamin d, vitamin K, and magnesium.

Osteoporosis in Men

Osteoporosis is the progressive loss of bone density and bone strength eventually leading to an increased risk of bone fracture. Our bones are constantly being remodeled. This keeps our bones stronger longer. Some bone is always being resorbed (older bone) and being replaced with younger bone. In fact, bone turns over completely about every seven years.

The challenge with osteoporosis in men and women is that it is usually asymptomatic until a fracture occurs. And, then in some cases it is already too late. Why? Because 37.5% of men over aged 60 will die within one year of having sustained a hip fracture.

And, twice as many men as women will die of an infection during the first two years following a hip fracture.

Risk Factors for Osteoporosis in Men

In women, reaching menopause is the main contributing factor to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis in men is must-factorial and include:

  • alcohol abuse.
  • excessive use of corticosteroids.
  • low testosterone and estrogen as a result of aging.
  • prostate cancer treatments called androgen-deprivation therapy.

In men with osteoporosis, the following factors in increase the risk of a fracture occurring.

  • increasing age.
  • prolonged inactivity or immobilization.
  • low body mass index.
  • low testosterone and estrogen.
  • smoking.
  • type 1 diabetes.
  • rheumatoid arthritis.
  • thyroid disorders.
  • chemotherapy for cancer.

We have written about the importance of maintaining healthy testosterone levels and participating in a resistance exercise program.

Calcium and vitamin D are the building blocks of health bone. Calcium makes up most of the content of bone and vitamin D facilitates calcium absorption from the gut.

Other important nutrients include magnesium, zinc, boron, vitamin K and curcumin.

Vitamin K activates the hormone osteocalcin which maintains bone strength. Magnesium increases bone density by enabling calcium to move into bone cells. Zinc stimulates new bone formation. Boron regulates the metabolism of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. Inflammation is being recognized as a risk factor for osteoporosis and curcumin helps fight inflammation.

Stop thinking of osteoporosis as something that affects only in women. Because of the morbidity and mortality related to hip fractures in men, men should take more aggressive steps to prevent osteoporosis from occurring.

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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