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Osteoporosis - Not Just a Woman's Disease

More than two million American men have osteoporosis, or weakening of the bones, but very few of them are aware of this major health problem.

Although osteoporosis is less common in men than women, no one is immune to the disease. At least 20 percent of people with osteoporosis are men.

Bone is a complex living tissue that constantly renews itself. The body builds and stores bone tissue efficiently until about age 30. With aging, bones begin to break down faster than new bone is formed. This breakdown of bone, osteoporosis, affects 10 million Americans, and 34 million more are estimated to have low bone mass (osteopenia), which places them at increased risk for osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a silent disease. You can't tell from the way you feel that your bones are losing density. You often don't realize it until you fracture a bone.

There are several reasons that women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. Men have about 5 percent higher bone density after their growing period than women. Men also tend to have bigger bones, and it's generally harder to break bigger bones. In addition, men often have larger muscles than women and may be less likely to fall.

Even though men are less likely to have osteoporosis than women, the average age of men who experience hip fractures has actually been younger than women in several recent studies. Fractures are a sign of possible bone loss, and men or women who experience fractures should have their bone density checked, regardless of age.

Several factors increase the risk of osteoporosis in men:

Whether you're male or female, it is recommended that the following steps to reduce bone loss and the risk of developing osteoporosis:

This article originally appeared in UC Health Line (10/10/06), a service of the NetWellness.org Academic Health Center Public Relations Communications Department and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission, 2006.

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Last Reviewed: Sep 03, 2008

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Professor of Medicine
Director, Bone Health and Osteoporosis Center
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati