Women Should Help Get Men Tested For Osteoporosis

Apr 29 2008 - 12:33pm

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.



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