Osteoporosis & Men: What You Need to Know

Most people think that osteoporosis is strictly a woman’s health concern. However, more than 2 million men suffer from this condition that causes bones to be brittle and prone to fracture. Men develop osteoporosis about a decade later in life than women, and though men have fewer osteoporosis-related fractures than women (one-third of all hip fractures occurs in men), they are more likely to suffer serious complications or death as a result.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation:

  • Up to one in four men over age 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis.
  • Men older than 50 are more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than they are to get prostate cancer.
  • Each year, about 80,000 men will break a hip.
  • Men are more likely than women to die within a year after breaking a hip.
  • Men can break bones in the spine or break a hip, but this usually happens at a later age than women.

What puts a man at risk?

In men, wrist fractures have been shown to be an important risk factor for having hip fractures later in life, whereas in women, a previous spine fracture is predictive of subsequent hip fractures. Other risk factors include:


  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • Use of steroid medications
  • Unhealthy lifestyle (smoking, alcohol use, lack of exercise)
  • Low testosterone or estrogen levels
  • Prostate cancer and its treatment
  • Immobility due to stroke or heart disease
  • Kidney, lung, gastrointestinal or autoimmune disorders
  • Chronic Disease such as Rhuematoid arthritis, colitis and chron’s disease
  • Medications like Dilantin, Blood thinners and corticosteroids

What should men do to prevent osteoporosis?

For men, maintaining good bone health starts with regular doctor visits to screen for bone mineral density and prostate cancer. Other essentials are:


  • Regularly scheduled weight-bearing exercise
  • Healthy, moderate-protein diets
  • Supplements including vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, and isoflavones to help prevent bone mineral losses

Men at risk for hormone-dependent cancers should always discuss supplementation plans with their doctor to ensure that the supplements and medications are working together for best effect.


Current Osteoporosis Medications and how they work.


Most medications are antiresorptive agents, which decrease the removal of calcium from the bone, it works by suppressing parathyroid hormone which is what takes calcium out of the bone.  Bone is a living dynamic tissue that brings in and takes out calcium and this is where we get calcium if our blood levels or muscle levels are to low.  Extreme athletes may actually harvest calcium from there bone so that their muscles will function more appropriately during extreme events like ultra-marathon’s.


The current medications that are in use are:

  • Alendronate (Fosamax)
  • Risedronate (Actonel)
  • Raloxifene (Evista)
  • Ibandronate (Boniva)
  • Calcitonin (Calcimar)
  • Zoledronate (Reclast)
  • Denosumab (prolia)


Some of the above medications are associated with increases in hip fracture so there are some types of medication doctors will use over others to prevent hip fracture call bisphosphates.  The following are bisphosphates; Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva and reclast.  This doesn’t mean they are completely immune to fracture but are less than other prescriptions.


It is still recommended that you do supplementation and lifestyle changes long before you have to seek the help of prescription medications due to side-effects that are present.


Eating your Calcium in foods?


Many foods we eat contain calcium and milk is one of them, however it is not the most bio-available source and can often pass straight through the system without ever being absorbed into the body itself.  Consider some of these foods instead for adding into your diet:

  • Dates
  • Bean sprouts
  • Beets
  • Bok-choy
  • Spinach, collard greens
  • Black eye peas
  • Quinoa flour, Amaranath flour

Click here to download the Man’s Guide to Osteoporosis from the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

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