Health Watch -- Weak-Boned Men

Health Watch is a Public Service of the  Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Women aren't the only ones who need to worry about the strength of their bones.

While most media images of osteoporosis show fragile, elderly women, men also have to worry about their bones weakening as they grow older. In fact, the National Institutes of Health estimate that between 1 million and 2 million men in the United States have osteoporosis. To help you put that in perspective, men over the age of 50 are more likely to have an osteoporosis-related fracture than they are to develop prostate cancer.

Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say that about one in six American men will develop osteoporosis. The impact on their well-being could be significant. Fractures that occur because of weakened bones can lead to long-term hospitalizations, chronic disability, deformity and even death.

Dr. Khashayar Sakhaee, a UT Southwestern expert on mineral metabolism, says men should do the same things women do to prevent osteoporosis. Strengthen bones through weight-bearing exercises such as walking, running, aerobics and weight training. Get plenty of calcium in your diet. Most men don't get the recommended 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day - about three 8-ounce glasses of milk.

One area where men and women may differ in osteoporosis is that in men some of the bone weakening may be caused by a deficiency in testosterone, in addition to the loss of calcium and protein seen in women.