Do Men Need to Worry About Osteoporosis?

The short answer from a family medicine doctor

Q: I think of osteoporosis as a disease that mostly affects women. How common is it in men?

A: Male osteoporosis is more common than we think. There’s a difference between men and women in terms of the risk for osteoporosis, and that has to do with the fact that women go through menopause where they lose the production of estrogen or it goes down. It’s that estrogen that has been maintaining the density of the bones, so we’ll see bone density decline faster for women than for men.

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That being said, we do have to look very carefully at men. There are a number of medical problems that could be associated with bone loss in men. If someone used to be 6’4” and now he’s 5’8”, that’s somebody that I’d want to do a bone density test on.

To help prevent osteoporosis, my advice to patients is to get your calcium through your diet. If you don’t eat dairy products, there are actually better sources of calcium that are nondairy. Leafy green vegetables and many other vegetables are actually much better sources of calcium than dairy products.

— Family medicine doctor Donald Ford, MD

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