Caring Currents

Real Men Can Have Brittle Bones

Last updated: May 19, 2008

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I'll bet you think that osteoporosis (bone thinning) is a woman’s condition. I did. Looks like we need to adjust our thinking -- and we’re not alone. The American College of Physicians released new clinical guidelines this month on screening men for osteoporosis. This is good info to share with your dad and with his doctor.


These first-ever guidelines call for doctors to periodically screen older men using these risk factors: 

  • Low body weight or recent weight loss combined with physically inactivity
  • Ongoing use of corticosteroid drugs (such as prednisone) or some drugs used to treat prostate cancer
  • Low calcium diet
  • Smoking
  • Previous fractures not caused by trauma


Doctors are advised to give high-risk men further x-ray testing -- as early detection is key with osteoporosis -- and several simple approaches can slow its progress, such as increasing Calcium, Vitamin D, and exercise. Medications can also help (with some caution, as noted by fellow blogger Stephanie Trelogan).


What prompted the new guidelines? The College of Physicians found osteoporosis is significantly underdiagnosed and undertreated in men, leaving them more susceptible to life-threatening injuries.


Women still rule the numbers when it comes to weakening bones (thanks to menopause), but as Baby Boomers creep up in age, more men are expected to be diagnosed. (An estimated 6 out of 100 men have osteoporosis by age 65.)


Like women, men need the promise of prevention. So, let’s get the older men in our lives screened! 


Photo by Flickr user Ian_Ransley under the Creative Commons attribution license.