Study addresses osteoporosis in men

In a new study, a team of Belgian researchers reviewed the prevalence of osteoporosis among men, as well as the medical community's typical response to the disease.

Their conclusions, which appear in the journal Best Practice and Research: Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, indicate that osteoporosis is a significant problem among aging men. They note that existing standards for diagnosis, many of which are based on female references, may need to be universalized.

The team, which hails from Leuven University, began by noting that beyond the age of 50, one in three osteoporosis-related fractures occur in men. Among mature males, fracture-related mortality is also higher than it is among females.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) estimates that one in four men will have such a fracture after the age of 50. In all, approximately 80,000 men will break a hip each year in the U.S., the NOF states.

In the Belgian study, researchers said that in at least half of all men with osteoporosis, an underlying cause can be found, such as excessive glucocorticoid use, hypogonadism or alcohol abuse.

By contrast, as few as 20 percent of female cases of osteoporosis could be considered secondary to another condition, the team wrote.

The team stated that while a diagnosis of osteoporosis and treatments for the disease tend to be based on bone mineral density (BMD) measurements, more clinical weight should potentially be given to estimates of absolute fracture risk.

They noted that considering BMD alone may not offer a complete picture of a mature man's bone health, since some osteoporosis criteria are based on female bone mineral references.

Researchers concluded that while these diagnostic criteria may need updating, certain medications - specifically bisphosphonates and teriparatide - appear to be just as efficacious in reversing bone loss among men as they are among women.

Approximately 54 million Americans have either osteoporosis or low bone mass, according to the NOF.
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