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Not for Women Only

One in eight such men will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture and among Caucasian men 65 years of age and older, some 80 percent of their hip fractures will be attributable to osteoporosis. Mortality in men one year after a hip fracture is nearly twice as high as it is for women.

Given these data coupled with the ageing of the baby boomers, the National Institutes of Health in 1999 earmarked nearly $24 million for a long-term, multi-site study of males over 65 in an effort to identify the prevalence and primary male risk factors for the disease.

Alcohol (and smoking to a lesser degree) tends, in higher doses, to damage the liver, which can effect Vitamin D metabolism, as well as suppress the production of male hormone in the testes. Alcohol probably damages bone through a direct negative effect on the bone forming cells. Nutrition is a secondary factor. Those who are malnourished have very low bone density.

The study involving mice show that there are gender-specific genetic factors at play; therefore, even without the presence of secondary factors such as alcohol, smoking and male hormone, males tend to have some higher risk when it is associated with some genetic pre-dispositions.

It is not practical to screen every male at the present time using a bone density screen. The development of a genetic screening tool would make it easier to identify those at risk. From a primary care physician standpoint, Clifford J. Rosen, Director of the Maine Center for Osteoporosis Research and Education, says he believes that men who are over 50 and complaining of unexplained back pain or other secondary causes such as history of kidney stones, alcoholism, and steroids usage, should be screened with bone density testing., Source: American Association for Clinical Chemistry


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