Older men face risk of osteoporosis
The risk arises after a low-impact fracture.
While the focus of osteoporosis risk has been on women, a new study finds that older men who experience a fracture face as much risk as older women do.
The findings, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggest that once a person 60 or older experiences a low trauma fracture, the risk for a man to have another bone break is similar to that of a woman.
Because men enter the prime of life with bone mass that averages 7 percent to 10 percent higher than women, and do not experience the precipitous decline in sex hormones and subsequent bone loss that women do in menopause, their risk of fracture is lower than in women of a similar age.
But the Australian researchers found that after an initial low-impact break, the risk of re-fracture for a man was similar to the initial broken bone risk of a woman 10 years older.
"While women are initially twice as likely as men to have a fracture, once the first break occurs, the risk of a second substantially increases and the protective effects of being male disappear altogether," said Dr. Jacqueline Center, lead author of the study and a scientist at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, University of South Wales, Sydney.
"Anyone, a man or a woman, over 50 years of age, with a fracture of any kind resulting from minimal injury, such as a slip on the pavement, needs to be investigated and treated for osteoporosis," Center said. "There are good treatments available, and these can halve the likelihood of a subsequent fracture."
The researchers note that despite substantial evidence that an initial fracture increases the risk of another, fewer than 30 percent of women and fewer than 10 percent of men with a fracture are treated to help lower their risk of another break.
The study followed 2,245 women and 1,760 men for up to 16 years. Of that group, 905 women and 337 men had a fracture from a fall that occurred from no more than a standing height or less.
Bone injuries from other traumas, such as auto accidents, were not considered. All fracture locations, except for ribs (in men) and ankles (in women) resulted in an increased risk for a subsequent break, with the highest risks following hip and vertebrae fractures in younger men.
Among the women, 253 experienced a subsequent fracture, as did 71 of the men.
The study showed that the increased risk of a second break from a minor impact remained high for at least 10 years.