I read in the news this morning that men will eventually become extinct – as if they don’t have enough to worry about with declining fertility and man boobs – now it seems they are also at risk from osteoporosis. This has traditionally been seen as a ‘woman’s disease’ but the same oestrogen dominance that is at the root of men’s aforementioned health problems is also linked to osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is not known as the ‘silent killer’ without good reason as generally there are no warning signs until a bone is broken or becomes vulnerable. There is a lot of information for women about osteoporosis, but in men it goes largely unrecognised, by them and their doctors. We now know that men too can be at risk of oestrogen dominance (those man boobs again) but new risk factors have been identified in an unusual source.
Recent findings in a thesis at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden by PhD student Robert Rudäng has identified those factors increasing the risk of bone fragility in men. He has evaluated how different factors affect skeletal health during adult life based on studies of just over 1,000 young men in Gothenburg. From this several previously unknown risk factors for osteoporosis in men were identified, including new ones to your grandfathers and their own history of bone health.
Risk 1 – men whose maternal or paternal grandfather have suffered a hip fracture have a clearly increased risk of osteoporosis in the form of low bone density and smaller bone size. Compared with men whose maternal or paternal grandfather had not broken their hip, the difference is between 3 to 5 per cent
Risk 2 – the same risk, though not so pronounced, is found in the case of men born to an older mother
Risk 3 – smoking increases the risk as the study found that the development of bone density in the lumbar region and hip for men who start smoking around 20 is only half as sastisfactory up to the age of 25 or so, when compared with non-smokers
Risk 4 – suffering a fracture in childhood or adolescence has a clear link with microstructure impairment of the skeleton in young adult men, which in the study is shown to contribute to lowering skeletal strength by roughly 3 to 4 per cent.
What can be done?
The late John Lee, MD (the pioneer of bioidentical progesterone usage) always believed that as bone structure in men and women is inherently the same, then the same treatment will be effective. In men he saw osteoporosis more frequently in those with a history of low levels or lack of testosterone and that the same regime of supplementing with bioidentical progesterone would be protective initially and help build new bone in men at risk.