Harvard Men's Health Watch

Osteoporosis Part II: Prevention and treatment

Many men think of osteoporosis as a "woman's disease," and many doctors make the same mistake. It's true that osteoporosis is more common in women than men, and that it strikes women at an earlier age. But it's also true that about two million American men have osteoporosis and another 12 million are at risk. The consequences can be serious and even deadly, ranging from height loss and back pain due to spinal fractures, to hip fractures that can lead to dependency and even death. It's time to think about the bottom line: prevention and treatment.

Lifestyle prevention and treatment

Exercise and diet are ideal partners in efforts to enhance health and prevent disease. And what's good for your heart, circulation, metabolism, and brain is also good for your bones.

Exercise increases bone mineral density by slowing the breakdown of bone that is part of the normal remodeling process. The result is more bone calcium and stronger bones. Exercise is most effective when it is started in youth and continued throughout life, but it's never too late to start. For example, a 35-year study of 2,205 Swedish men found that sustained sports participation could reduce the risk of hip fractures by 33%, even in men ages 60 to 82. And exercise can offset the bone loss that accompanies even modest weight loss; if you need to reduce, do it with caloric restriction and exercise.

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