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Osteoporosis On Rise In Men

Osteoporosis is a condition win which bones gradually weaken and lose density, putting patients at a much higher risk of fracture.

Efforts to fight osteoporosis have traditionally focused on women, but more and more attention is now being focused on the millions of men who also suffer, The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay reports.

Like many men who suffer from osteoporosis, Don Traunstein's diagnosis came late in the game.

He says, "I've broken bones all throughout my life, maybe as many as twenty. You have to suspect something, but osteoporosis was just not on the radar screen."

A debilitating shoulder fracture that wasn't healing properly plagued him for seven years, but it wasn't until a year-and-a-half ago that he was referred to osteoporosis specialist Dr. Carolyn Becker.

Dr. Becker says, "I think that's one of the biggest oversights in this field. We're just now starting to come around to recognize that men get osteoporosis - a third of hip fractures are in men."

Now Traunstein takes a new drug to help his bones heal, along with calcium and vitamin D to help prevent further bone loss.

To her patient Dr. Becker says, "The key is that you've got new bone forming, things are healing after six or seven years of living with this."

Although osteoporosis in men is usually a condition that develops with age, it can occur much earlier for some.

"Unfortunately, many men don't know they have it until they break a bone," Dr. Becker notes, "We've been very good about screening women for osteoporosis by doing a bone density test but unfortunately men are not getting that advantage."

Traunstein says, "I've advised my son and my son-in-law to have a bone density test. I don't think it's ever too early."

Many doctors are now starting to recommend bone density screening for men at age 70 and over.

Doctors can be on the lookout for other telltale signs besides bone fractures. Loss of height or a rounded spine can also be symptoms of osteoporosis. For older men, low testosterone can be a risk factor as their levels decline with age.

The good news is that along with a healthy lifestyle, many of the same drugs given to women to treat and prevent osteoporosis are also approved for men. But all men should be getting calcium and vitamin D because they're the building blocks of your bones. Exercise is also critical.

The causes of osteoporosis in men include family history or genetics in some cases; other factors are tobacco use, alcohol use, and steroid use.

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