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Reasons Why Osteoporosis in Men is Underdiagnosed

Reasons Why Osteoporosis in Men is Underdiagnosed

Twenty-five percent of men will experience bone fractures due to the disease.

A group of paleontologists were surprised to discover that an ancient Egyptian mummy stored in Jerusalem’s Israel Museum suffered from osteoporosis. They scanned the 2,200-year-old skeleton of Iret Khor-Ero and   found signs that this member of the upper class lived a sedentary life and ate a carbohydrate-rich diet—lifestyle factors linked to higher risk for the disease. But what may be just as surprising is that this mummy with brittle bone disease was a male.

Osteoporosis is commonly associated with older females, but research shows that men are also (and always have been) at risk. Although older women in the US are three times more likely than men to be diagnosed with osteoporosis, at some point in their life, 25 percent of men will suffer a broken bone because of the disease. Other research finds men have a higher one-year mortality rate for nearly all types of fractures.

Clearly, osteoporosis in men is underdiagnosed and undertreated. In fact, women are five times more likely to undergo a bone scan (the gold standard for diagnosis) and three times more likely to be given vitamin D/calcium supplements than men.

So, guys, you have to step up (gently!) and get hip (and knee) to the symptoms of osteoporosis. Older men should pay attention to any unexplained pain, especially in their back and joints. Other signs include falls that cause a fracture and loss of height over time. And don’t hesitate to ask your GP for a bone density scan and other screenings.

Medically reviewed in August 2019.

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