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Osteoporosis In Men: Risk Factors And Tips To Prevent It

Osteoporosis is the single major cause of bone problems in adults. It can affect anyone irrespective of gender, however, is mostly reported in women. However, a large number of cases of men with osteoporosis are being reported in recent times. Osteoporosis is a silent disease that is tough to detect. As men have a larger skeleton, bone loss starts much later and happens at a much slower rate, as men don't have fast hormonal change [1] .

Rate of loss in men in their 50's is much lower as compared to women of the same age because they go through menopause. At the age of 65-70 years, both have the same rate of bone loss [2] . Osteoporosis is mainly classified into two types, primary osteoporosis and secondary osteoporosis. Primary osteoporosis in men over the age of 70 is called Senile Osteoporosis and is caused by an age-related issue and bone loss is the major reason. For men below the age of 70, the term used is idiopathic osteoporosis [3] .

In secondary osteoporosis, the loss of bone mass is caused because of a certain lifestyle behaviour. The most common reason is exposure to excess alcohol consumption, smoking, lack of exercise and gastrointestinal disease [4] .

Risk Factors Of Osteoporosis In Men

There are certain factors that increase the risk of osteoporosis in men and they are as follows [5]

1. Age

After the age of 50, men lose their bone density at the rate of about 0.5 to 1 per cent yearly. This happens because the body cannot rebuild the bones at the same rate as before the age of 50, which happens due to the loss of testosterone, as a small amount of oestrogen is also produced, which is required to balance bone-building and bone re-absorption [6] .

2. Diet

Your food habits play a central role in your bone health. A lack of calcium and vitamin D in your diet can increase the risk of osteoporosis [7] , as these both play an integral role in bone health. Vitamin D helps to absorb the food we eat and calcium is essential to build the bones stronger and make them less prone to fracture. Dairy products and milk are the best sources for calcium as an average man above 50 needs around 1000 mg of calcium daily.

And Vitamin D is automatically absorbed by the body when exposed to sunlight. One can take supplements to fulfil these needs but make sure not to intake more than 500 mg of calcium at once [8] .

3. Lack of exercise

Being inactive can steadily increase your risk of osteoporosis [9] . Lack of physical movements and exercises can make the bones more fragile and prone to fracture. Workout for at least 30 minutes daily to keep your bones strong. Try jogging, running, hiking, lifting weights etc.

4. Excessive alcohol

Consumption of excessive alcohol can speed up the process of bone loss and can also affect your liver. People who consume alcohol daily should try to reduce it or should limit themselves to not more than 2 drinks a day [10] .

5. Smoking

Consumption of tobacco is directly linked to bone thinning, as smokers are less physically active than non-smokers, thus directly affecting their bones [10] .

6. Certain medications

Medicines used for treating depression, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, heartburn and also steroids can serve as a reason for bone loss. If you consume these medications, try to exercise more; and consumption of steroids and heartburn medicines also should be stopped [11] .

Tips To Prevent Osteoporosis In Men

Although the number of studies conducted on understanding the aspect of osteoporosis is limited in comparison to that of women, experts suggest various steps and methods that can help prevent the development of the condition [12] .

  • Avoid smoking, reduce your alcohol intake, and increase your level of physical activity.
  • Make sure to consume calcium-rich foods on a daily basis.
  • Ensure an adequate intake of vitamin D.
  • Practice weight-bearing exercises in which bones and muscles work well.
  • Get a body check-up to understand any underlying medical conditions that affect bone health and seek treatment.
  • Discuss with your doctor about the use of medications that may cause bone loss.

Apart from these, follow the below-mentioned exercises to ensure good bone health [13] .

Balancing exercise: Stand on one leg while holding a bar with the opposite hand. Do this for not more than 15 seconds and repeat this with the other leg. Do at least 10 reps daily. To make it a little difficult, try to stand on a pillow.

Walk heel to toe: Try to walk slowly placing one foot exactly in front of the other, heel to toe. You can take the support from a person or a bar. Do this for 100 metres daily.

Leg raises: Stand on one leg and lift your other leg to your side. Hold it for 10 seconds and change the leg. Repeat this activity daily.

Straight spine: Hold your spine straight while doing exercises and while sitting. It's better, as it increases the strength.

If you have osteoporosis or does not have proper bone health, here are some of the 'don'ts' [14] , [15] :

  • Avoid moving too fast and avoid exercising that includes you to bend forward or backwards as this could increase the risk of vertebral fracture.
  • Don't lift weights above 5-6 kg at once.
  • Avoid exercise or activities which may have chances of you falling, as it might cause a fracture.
  • Activities like jumping, cycling, etc., should also be avoided.
  • Always make sure you have some kind of support at your disposal if in case you lose your balance. Also, don't lock your knees, as you might lose balance.
View Article References
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  2. [2] Giusti, A., & Bianchi, G. (2015). Treatment of primary osteoporosis in men.Clinical interventions in aging,10, 105.
  3. [3] Adler, R. A. (2018). Update on osteoporosis in men.Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism,32(5), 759-772.
  4. [4] Finkelstein, J. S., Rosen, C. J., & Mulder, J. E. (2017). Treatment of osteoporosis in men.UpToDate, Waltham, MA: Walters Kluwer Health.
  5. [5] Cauley, J. A., Cawthon, P. M., Peters, K. E., Cummings, S. R., Ensrud, K. E., Bauer, D. C., ... & Kado, D. M. (2016). Risk factors for hip fracture in older men: the osteoporotic fractures in men study (MrOS).Journal of Bone and Mineral Research,31(10), 1810-1819.
  6. [6] Pisani, P., Renna, M. D., Conversano, F., Casciaro, E., Di Paola, M., Quarta, E., ... & Casciaro, S. (2016). Major osteoporotic fragility fractures: Risk factor updates and societal impact.World journal of orthopedics,7(3), 171.
  7. [7] Qaseem, A., Forciea, M. A., McLean, R. M., & Denberg, T. D. (2017). Treatment of low bone density or osteoporosis to prevent fractures in men and women: a clinical practice guideline update from the American College of Physicians.Annals of internal medicine,166(11), 818-839.
  8. [8] Bliuc, D., Alarkawi, D., Nguyen, T. V., Eisman, J. A., & Center, J. R. (2015). Risk of subsequent fractures and mortality in elderly women and men with fragility fractures with and without osteoporotic bone density: the Dubbo Osteoporosis Epidemiology Study.Journal of bone and mineral research,30(4), 637-646.
  9. [9] Cauley, J. A., Barbour, K. E., Harrison, S. L., Cloonan, Y. K., Danielson, M. E., Ensrud, K. E., ... & Boudreau, R. (2016). Inflammatory markers and the risk of hip and vertebral fractures in men: the osteoporotic fractures in men (MrOS).Journal of Bone and Mineral Research,31(12), 2129-2138.
  10. [10] Drake, M. T., Clarke, B. L., & Lewiecki, E. M. (2015). The pathophysiology and treatment of osteoporosis.Clinical therapeutics,37(8), 1837-1850.
  11. [11] Jaramillo, J. D., Wilson, C., Stinson, D. J., Lynch, D. A., Bowler, R. P., Lutz, S., ... & Wan, E. S. (2015). Reduced bone density and vertebral fractures in smokers. Men and COPD patients at increased risk.Annals of the American Thoracic Society,12(5), 648-656.
  12. [12] Wittke, M., Cameron, K., & Gilchrist, C. (2017). Take Control of Your Health: You Have the Power to Prevent a Fall.
  13. [13] Borji, S., & Nasri, H. (2017). An update on prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.Journal of Parathyroid Disease,5(2), 29.
  14. [14] Malhotra, R., & Gautam, D. (2017). Total Hip Arthroplasty in Severe Osteoporosis-Technical Tips to Avert Complications Prophylactic Locked Plating Along With Total Hip Arthroplasty for Severe Osteoporosis with Intramedullary Nail.Situ, 2.
  15. [15] Levin, V. A., Jiang, X., & Kagan, R. (2018). Estrogen therapy for osteoporosis in the modern era.Osteoporosis International,29(5), 1049-1055.
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