We hear a lot about women and osteoporosis. In fact, half of all postmenopausal women will have an osteoporosis-related fracture during their lifetime, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
Osteoporosis, which literally means "porous bone," makes bones more fragile and susceptible to breakage, especially if the person falls.
The reason women are more likely to develop osteoporosis is due to hormone changes, specifically due to lowered estrogen levels and the fact that women have a lower bone density than men to begin with.
Women start losing bone mass right after menopause, however, by the ages of 65 to 70, men and women lose bone mass at the same rate.(6)
Men are not immune to developing osteoporosis, though we hear much less emphasis on their risk factors.
“As many as one in four men over the age of 50 years will develop at least one osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime,” according to a 2015 clinical epidemiology study.(2)
Osteoporosis has primary and secondary causes. Primary causes are those related to aging, ethnicity and genetics. Men who had fathers with osteoporosis have a greater chance of having it as well.
"Hypogonadism, corticosteroid use, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, low calcium intake, and vitamin D deficiency are common secondary causes of osteoporosis in men," according to an American Association of Family Physicians article.(3)
“The most common cause of male osteoporosis is testosterone deficiency, according to Paul Mystkowski, MD, an endocrinologist at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle and clinical faculty member of the University of Washington in Seattle.(1)
Glucocorticoids are steroid medications that are often used to treat asthma or rheumatoid arthritis. They can affect testosterone levels in men and and also lead to bone loss.
Lifestyle practices are also common causes of osteoporosis in men.(4)
1) Male Osteoporosis: Bone Mass Matters. WebMD.com. Retrieved Aug. 3, 2016.
2) Willson, Tina et al. The clinical epidemiology of male osteoporosis: a review of the recent literature. Clin Epidemiol. 2015; 7: 65–76. Published online 2015 Jan 9.
3) RAO, SHOBHA S. MD et al. Osteoporosis in Men. Am Fam Physician. 2010 Sep 1;82(5):503-508.
4) Osteoporosis in Men. National Institutes of Health.com. Retrieved Aug. 3, 2016.
5) Cheng, Natalie MD et al. Osteoporosis screening for men. Can Fam Physician. 2008 Aug; 54(8): 1140–1141.e5.
6) Osteoporosis in Men. Cleveland Clinic.org. Retrieved Aug. 3, 2016