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Expert View: Dr. Neil Binkley on Who is Affected by Osteoporosis and How to Advocate For Yourself

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EmpowHer: Is it true that 80 percent of those affected by osteoporosis are women? Is that true or false?

Dr. Binkley: Eighty percent -— I think that number is a little high. It depends on what type of fracture you look at. Clearly, osteoporosis has been appropriately viewed as the disease of women in that the fracture risk, as I mentioned, is about 50 percent. However, I think we should recognize that this is not simply a disease of older women. If you look at a 50-year-old white man, his risk of having an osteoporotic fracture in his remaining lifetime is almost 25 percent.

EmpowHer: That is pretty high.

Dr. Binkley: Yes, this disease will affect approximately one in two women and approximately one in four in men. We need to increase the recognition that this is not solely a disease limited to women.

EmpowHer: And also it is important to note that women are often the health keepers of their male family members.

Dr. Binkley: Yes, you are exactly right there.

EmpowHer: Doctor, are women more likely to suffer from osteoporosis because as they age, they might be less active? Does activity level play a larger role?

Dr. Binkley: You are right that inactivity certainly contributes to a decline in bone mass and in bone strength. Inactivity also contributes to a decline in muscle strength which can make us more likely to fall, and obviously falls can cause broken bones. So inactivity is a major factor for both women and men. The reason that women are more likely to sustain osteoporotic fractures than men is that males in general are bigger than females; larger bones are stronger than smaller bones. So because male bones in general are larger than female bones, they tend to be stronger and therefore less likely to break. Additionally, women usually have a fairly abrupt decline in estrogen levels around the menopausal transition. In men, that decline tends to be slower after age 50.

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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