It is estimated that one in five American men develop the bone-weakening disease. New research from the University of Pittsburgh confirms that older men experience the same decrease in the ability to absorb calcium that leads to osteoporosis as women do.
A study of the drug Fosamax shows bone-strengthening benefits for men as well as a reduction in height loss.
Thom Thompson of Atlanta, Ga. was in denial that he had osteoporosis until he fractured his spine, even though he was losing height as the disease progressed.
"There were clues that I ignored," he says. "My wife is 5' 11". I used to be 6' 1". I am now 5' 10", and when I started getting down to her eye level, I really thought she was getting taller."
Scientists believe that the male hormone testosterone is important in developing strong bones. In the same way that post-menopausal women develop the disease as estrogen levels drop, men may become more prone to the disease as there body produces less testosterone with age.
There are no drugs currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for male osteoporosis, but drugs like Fosamax -- approved for women -- have helped men like Thom improve their bone strength.
Men can help prevent osteoporosis by getting the right amount of calcium early in life. Doctors have known for a long time how important calcium is to maintaining bone strength.
Reported By Dr. Emily Senay