Osteoporosis ("porous bones") is by far the most common bone disease, marked by an increased risk of bone fractures due to weak or thin bones. Although it is often equated with postmenopausal women, men aren't safe from osteoporosis either. According to a 2012 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 4 percent of men over 50 years of age have the bone disease, and 38 percent of men in that age group have a condition called low bone mass (often a precursor to osteoporosis).
What's more, research suggests that one out of five men over 50 years old get at least one bone fracture in their lives. And though fractures are less common in men (about half of women over 50 are expected to get a bone fracture), the outcomes of their fractures are more serious. "The mortality from fractures is higher in men," says Dr. René Rizzoli, head of the Division of Bone Diseases at Geneva University Hospitals in Switzerland.
Osteoporosis and bone fractures don't have to be a part of the aging process – they can usually be prevented with certain lifestyle changes. Here are 10 simple tips to keep your bones healthy and strong.
Check Your Prescription Medications
If you're seeing multiple specialists to cover your healthcare needs, make sure to always be up front about the medications you are taking because numerous drugs can result in bone loss. "The one that most often comes to mind is steroids for people with chronic lung disease and asthma," says Dr. Lewiecki. "That has devastating effects on bones." Other medications that are bad for bones includes antiandrogens for prostate cancer, aromatase inhibitors for breast cancer, certain anti-seizure medications, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for depression.
It's not always possible to stop taking these medications, so it's vital to monitor your other potentially bone-harming habits, and work with your healthcare provider to determine the lowest possible drug dose you can take to control your symptoms. Bone density tests are also available if you're concerned about your bone health, Dr. Lewiecki says. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that all men over the age of 70 get a bone density test. You should also get the test if you broke a bone after the age of 50, or if you have risk factors – such as smoking, living an inactive lifestyle, or having a family history of osteoporosis – and are between the ages of 50 and 69.
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