Osteoporosis is a condition in which bones become weak and are more likely to fracture or break. In young adult life, both men and women form enough new bone to replace the bone that is naturally broken down by the body. Osteoporosis develops when your body cannot replace bone as fast as it is broken down.
In the United States there are 2 million men with osteoporosis and 12 million who are at risk for the disease. About one in five men over age 50 will have a bone fracture that will seriously affect his quality of life, and may cause early death.
Osteoporosis is a “silent” disease without clear signs and symptoms. You should be tested for osteoporosis if you
Your bones change throughout your life. Your body constantly breaks down old bone and forms new bone to take its place. This is called bone turnover.
The most common diagnostic tool is a bone mineral density (BMD) test such as dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Blood tests can also check for high levels of calcium or low levels of vitamin D in your blood, which may cause bones to become brittle. With early detection, men with mild to more severe bone loss can take steps to improve their bone health and reduce the risk of fractures.
To limit bone loss, you should
Your diet (with dietary supplements, if needed) should also include enough calcium and vitamin D, which varies depending on your age.
Men under 50: 1,000 mg calcium/day
400-800 IU vitamin D/day
Men over 50: 1,200 mg calcium/day
800-1,000 IU vitamin D/day
Source: National Osteoporosis Foundation
Along with lifestyle changes, you may need medication to stop bone loss and decrease the risk of fractures. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved several drugs to treat osteoporosis in men:
These drugs slow down bone loss. A fourth drug, teriparatide (daily injection), stimulates the formation of new bone. Teriparatide is only approved for men who are at high risk for fractures.
All these drugs seem to be effective in men with low sex hormone levels (hypogonadism). However, it is still unclear whether testosterone replacement therapy is useful to treat osteoporosis in men. Although small studies have shown that testosterone improves bone density (thickness and strength) in men with low sex hormone levels, there is no information about whether it reduces fracture risk.