Men and osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is often seen as a female condition but it can affect men too. In fact, almost a quarter of people suffering from osteoporosis in Australia are male,1 and one in three men will suffer from an osteoporosis related fracture after the age of 60.2

Osteoporosis is less common and tends to occur later in men than women for a number of reasons:

  • The larger male skeleton offers a greater reservoir of bone tissue2.
  • Bone loss with aging tends to occur at a much slower rate than in women due to a more gradual decline in hormone levels.2 At the age of 65‐70 however, the rate of bone loss becomes the same for both men and women.

Although osteoporosis is less common in men and tends to occur later, certain risk factors for its development relate to men at any age including:3

  • Family history of osteoporosis and fractures as bone heath tends to be strongly inherited.
  • Low calcium and vitamin D levels.
  • Regular use of certain medicines.
  • Some health conditions that can affect bone health.
  • Lifestyle factors such as smoking, low levels of physical activity, excessive alcohol consumption and low or excessive body weight.

How to reduce the risk of osteoporosis in men

There are a number of ways to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis in men including:

  • Increase the amount of calcium‐rich food in your daily diet. Along with dairy products, calcium can be found in green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and bok choy, tinned salmon and sardines with soft edible bones, almonds and tahini.4 A calcium supplement can also be taken to top up dietary intake especially after the age of 70 when calcium needs increase to 1300mg a day.4
  • Boost your vitamin D levels with moderate sunlight exposure or a vitamin D supplement when sun exposure is limited. Vitamin D is essential for the absorption and utilisation of calcium in the body.
  • Don’t smoke and consume alcohol in moderation only.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Include regular exercise in your routine to reduce bone loss and increase muscle mass and strength. Specific exercises for maximising bone health include basketball, netball, impact aerobics, tennis, jogging and brisk walking.5 It is also recommended to include resistance training such as using free weights, gym machines, resistance bands or doing push‐ups, planks and squats.5