Maybe you’ve seen television commercials that pair women and osteoporosis. Perhaps osteoporosis runs in your family with your Mom and her sisters. Or maybe you’ve heard friends say that osteoporosis is only a woman’s disease.
Well, let the truth be heard: osteoporosis affects both women and men
alike. The condition knows no gender, and currently, 44 million American men and women are being treated for the disease.
Let’s start with noting that osteoporosis (or “porous bone”) is a serious and very costly condition in which the bones in the body begin to break down, otherwise known as the loss of bone mineral density. This can eventually lead to the breaking of a hip, spine, or other bone.
Osteoporosis can strike at any age, but those with the greatest risk are the elderly. The National Osteoporosis Foundation states that one in two women and one in four men over the age of 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their remaining lifetime.
While it is true that many victims of osteoporosis are women, the disease can also detrimentally affect men as well. For example, more than 2 million American men suffer from osteoporosis and millions more are at risk but don’t realize it.
Each year, it is reported that 80,000 men have a hip fracture and one-third of these men die within a year. And while the rate of hip fractures is two to three times higher in women than in men, the one-year mortality rate following a hip fracture is nearly twice as high for men than women.
What’s worse is that osteoporosis is a silent killer because it does not have any recognizable symptoms—this means that people who are at risk for this disease usually do not find out that they are at risk until they break (or fracture) a bone.
To reduce the chance of developing osteoporosis, it is important for both men and women to make sure that enough calcium is present in their diets. As an example, men and women over the age of 50 should be aiming for 1,200 mg of calcium each day.
If the daily recommended amount of calcium can’t be reached through foods like cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and milk, your doctor may recommend you begin taking an over-the-counter calcium supplement fortified with vitamin D, so that you reach your calcium benchmark every day.
“Our office utilizes a machine that reads the current bone density of the achilles area. These tests are quick and a great way to gauge where your calcium levels lie,” said Don Tressler, PA-C at JSMA Avis Medical Center.
During these screens, if your results show that you are at risk for osteoporosis, your doctor may recommend you have a full body bone scan performed for further bone structure information.
A full body DEXA scan is not painfu, and can be performed at your local hospital. In many cases, these tests help people avoid the painful and expensive consequences associated with breaking a bone.
Remember though, osteoporosis can affect both men and women of any age, so begin monitoring your calcium intake now. Be proactive and prepared when it comes to your health, and choose plenty of calcium-rich foods for your diet.