Harvard Health Letter

Men: Pay attention to osteoporosis

One in four older men suffers a fracture.

Osteoporosis has long been thought of as a woman's disease. But older men should pay attention to the bone-thinning condition, too. An estimated two million American men have osteoporosis and another 12 million more may be at risk, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Once osteoporosis develops, men have the same increased risk for fractures as do women.

"Suffering a fracture when you're older means you're more likely to lose your independence, which can lead to other consequences," says Dr. Jill Paulson, an endocrinologist and instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Understanding the disease

Even though we may think of bones as solid and static, they are constantly changing. Older bone material is removed from the skeleton, in a process known as bone resorption, and new bone material takes its place. This formation of new bone is called ossification, but it tends to slow down as we age.

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