Do men need bone density testing?

January 19, 2014

Cancer, Health, Health Concerns, Thyroidism

by Dr. Avé C. Sims — 

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 2 million American men have osteoporosis today, and another 12 million are at risk for this disease.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 2 million American men have osteoporosis today, and another 12 million are at risk for this disease.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 2 million American men have osteoporosis today, and another 12 million are at risk for this disease. Yet despite the large number of men affected, osteoporosis in men remains underdiagnosed, underreported and inadequately researched. Although osteoporosis is less common in men than in women, it is estimated that men experience one-fifth to one-third of all hip fractures.

Many factors increase a man’s risk of developing osteoporosis. Approximately 50 to 60 percent of men with osteoporosis have disorders or conditions that are likely to produce bone loss, including hypogonadism (low production of the male sex hormone testosterone), hyperparathyroidism, intestinal disorders, malignancies, steroid therapy (e.g., chronic prednisone treatment) and immobilization.

Hypogonadism recently has been of particular interest, since it can occur with few or no symptoms. Additional risk factors for low bone density include unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, alcohol abuse, chronic inactivity and low body weight, especially if further weight loss occurs.

Among the above conditions, the most overlooked situation that can lead to bone loss in men is treatment for prostate cancer. Men may be losing bone at an alarming rate as a result of a common prostate cancer treatment, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The findings, published in the June issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, suggest that gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists (GnRH-a), a frequently used treatment for prostate cancer, causes severe drops in bone mass and results in an increased risk of fracture in men. Screening measures include diagnostic radiologic studies using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry of the hip and spine.

So, just because you are a man, do not dismiss osteoporosis as a woman’s disease. If you fit one of the above high-risk profiles, be sure to get yourself checked for possible bone loss.

 

Dr. Avé C. Sims is a naturopathic physician  in Mesa, Ariz. She specializes in treating chronic health conditions and general wellness with acupuncture, homeopathy, nutritional and lifestyle counseling. 480-539-6646, info@trueharmonywellness.com or trueharmonywellness.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 24, Number 3, June/July 2005.

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