Nav: Home

Men far less likely to prevent, screen for osteoporosis

May 15, 2015

Great Neck, NY - While the consequences of osteoporosis are worse in men than women - including death - older males are far less likely to take preventive measures against the potentially devastating bone-thinning disease or accept recommendations for screening, according to startling new research by North Shore-LIJ Health System geriatricians.

Geriatric fellow Irina Dashkova, MD, designed and led a cross-sectional survey of 146 older adults in New York and Florida that showed stunning gender differences in perspectives, beliefs and behaviors surrounding osteoporosis, which primarily affects women but also affects up to 2 million American men. Another 8 million to 13 million men in the United States have low bone mineral density, a condition known as osteopenia that's a precursor to osteoporosis.

"We were surprised at how big a difference we found between men and women regarding osteoporosis," said Dr. Dashkova, lead author of the study, which is scheduled for presentation at The American Geriatrics Society's 2015 Annual Scientific Meeting, which will take place in Washington, DC, from May 15-17.

"The fact that longevity is increasing in our population is wonderful. But we know from research that when men suffer fractures, their mortality is higher than in women and that severe medical consequences and loss of independence are much more prevalent in men," she added. "In our environment, you just get this perception that osteoporosis is a women's problem. This has to be changed, and the sooner the better."

More than 10 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis - raising their risk for serious bone fractures - and another 43 million have low bone mineral density, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Prior research showed that 13% of white men in the United States over age 50 will experience at least one osteoporosis-related fracture during their lifetime.

Strikingly, the risk of death after sustaining a hip fracture is twice as high in men compared to women, and loss of independence is also more common in males. Some medical conditions and drugs that can affect osteoporosis risk are male-specific, such as prostate cancer drugs that affect the production of testosterone or the way it works in the body.

Dr. Dashkova's research, in which she collaborated with mentoring author Gisele Wolf-Klein, MD, director of geriatric education for the North Shore-LIJ Health System, examined the psychological and social factors surrounding osteoporosis influencing each gender.

Among the 146 survey respondents, roughly one-third were men with an average age of 72. More than 70% were white. Women were far more likely to have never smoked compared to men (78.8% compared to 21.3%) and markedly more likely to report a family history of osteoporosis (nearly 91% compared to 9.1%).

Additionally, while most women would accept osteoporosis screening if offered, less than 25% of men would, the survey found. Women were also more than 4 times as likely as men to take preventive measures against osteoporosis, such as taking calcium and vitamin D supplements to strengthen bones.

Dr. Wolf-Klein, also program director for the geriatric fellowship at North Shore-LIJ, noted that osteoporosis testing involves a painless, quick procedure known as a DXA scan that shouldn't be considered fearsome. But healthcare providers also aren't encouraging men to undergo screening as often as they should, she said.

"Our survey clearly establishes that physicians are just not thinking of screening men. It's only when older men fall and break their hip that someone thinks maybe we should do something to prevent them breaking the other hip," Dr. Wolf-Klein said. "Not only is society in general unaware of the problem of osteoporosis in men, men are not seeking screening and diagnosis."

Drs. Dashkova and Wolf-Klein hope their new study prods greater awareness among the public as well as clinicians, including specialists in areas such as cardiology, nephrology and endocrinology who are caring for more older adults as the population ages.

"We geriatricians are delighted to see that longevity is increasing in both males and females," Dr. Wolf-Klein said. "The average age in my practice is in the 90s, and our patients are to be congratulated because clearly they're doing something right. But we have a duty to make sure those later years are as happy and productive as can be and not spent in a wheelchair."
-end-
For media interviews during the AGS meeting, please contact Gisele Wolf-Klein, MD at 516-526-1722, gwklein11@aol.com, or Irina Dashova, MD at 516-317-9613, idashkova@nshs.edu

Northwell Health

Related Osteoporosis Articles:

Mind the (osteoporosis treatment) gap!
A new review, referencing key clinical studies, guidelines and audits, outlines the main global challenges (and their solutions) facing healthcare professionals and policymakers responsible for providing care to populations in relation to bone health and fracture prevention.
Outwitting the 'silent thief' of osteoporosis
In a world first, new Australian research has revealed that genetic profiling can help predict whether an individual will break a bone through osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis: Antibody crystallized
Inhibiting a protein called Sclerostin could probably help treating the bone-loss disease osteoporosis.
JBMR perspective: A crisis in the treatment of osteoporosis
The remarkable progress made over the past 30 years to reduce fractures and dramatically improve the quality of life for millions of osteoporosis patients is rapidly being reversed, say two bone health experts in a Journal of Bone and Mineral Research article published online today.
The developmental origins of osteoporosis
Osteoporosis may have its origins in early life, but the consequences are not apparent until late adult life.
Task force provides guidance on use of osteoporosis drugs
A new report by a task force of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research provides guidance on the use of bisphosphonates, which are the most commonly used medications for osteoporosis.
Whole genome-sequencing uncovers new genetic cause for osteoporosis
Using one of the world's most extensive genetics data sets, an international research team led by Dr.
Men far less likely to prevent, screen for osteoporosis
While the consequences of osteoporosis are worse in men than women -- including death -- older males are far less likely to take preventive measures against the potentially devastating bone-thinning disease or accept recommendations for screening, according to startling new research by North Shore-LIJ Health System geriatricians.
'Aquatic osteoporosis' jellifying lakes
North American lakes are suffering from declining calcium levels, says new research from Queen's University.
Osteoporosis, not just a woman's disease
While osteoporosis prevention and treatment efforts have historically been focused on post-menopausal women, a new study from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center suggests that critical opportunities are being lost by not focusing more attention on bone loss and fracture risk in older men.

Related Osteoporosis Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...