Women Should Help Get Men Tested For Osteoporosis

2008-04-29 12:33

The New Jersey Interagency Council on Osteoporosis has joined with the National Osteoporosis Foundation to raise awareness of osteoporosis and bone health during May, Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month.

The council hopes to raise awareness that osteoporosis, long considered a women's disease, is also a serious threat to men's health, limiting their mobility, independence and longevity. The council wants men and women to know that osteoporosis is preventable, detectable and treatable.

Through its theme "Care About the Men in Your Life," the council is focusing its efforts this year on getting men - at the urging of the women in their lives - to recognize their risk and to get a bone density (DXA) scan. Medicare covers DXA scans for both men and women age 65 and over.

Known as "the silent disease," osteoporosis is a serious condition in which bones become thin, brittle and easily broken. Nearly half of all women and twenty percent of all men will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. Osteoporosis can impair an individual's ability to walk unassisted and often results in prolonged or permanent disability, institutionalization or death.

Osteoporosis is largely preventable for most people through healthy behaviors including a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, weight bearing exercise, a healthy lifestyle without smoking or excessive alcohol, and bone density testing and medications when appropriate.

More than 2 million American men have osteoporosis and 3 million more are at risk for the disease. A third of all men who fracture a hip do not survive more than a year after the fracture. Men with hip fractures die at a higher rate than women who break their hips.

A contributing factor to osteoporosis in men is that many medications taken for other conditions can cause bone loss. These medications include antiepileptic drugs (used for mood control, migraine, pain management, or epilepsy), chemotherapy drugs, steroid drugs (used for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, or other diseases), testosterone suppressing drugs (used for prostate cancer), and Warfarin (also known under the brand name Coumadin - used for heart disease). Even without medication, certain chronic health conditions such as anemia, cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, HIV, inflammatory diseases, lung diseases, and liver or kidney disease can increase bone loss.

The council's efforts are a companion to the National Osteoporosis Foundation's public service campaign, "Osteoporosis. It's Beatable. It's Treatable." Its focus is to get all at-risk groups to take action to protect their bone health.

The New Jersey Interagency Council on Osteoporosis, established in 1997, is a multidisciplinary coalition comprised of members of the public; state government; and healthcare, academic and corporate communities. It is dedicated to the development, implementation and evaluation of a comprehensive osteoporosis prevention and education program for the benefit of New Jersey residents.

The council encourages both men and women to get screened for osteoporosis and join a local Project Healthy Bones program to decrease bone loss, increase bone density and improve strength, balance and flexibility. This 24-week peer-led low impact exercise and education program is available in all New Jersey counties. More than 2,000 older adults have participated in Project Healthy Bones annually since its inception in 1997.

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