Osteoporosis: Men told to watch their step

Garvan scientists say that men need to realise osteoporosis is not just a disease of elderly women and that once men over the age of 60 have had a fracture, around one in three will have broken another bone within just a few years.
13 June 2007

Garvan scientists say that men need to realise osteoporosis is not just a disease of elderly women and that once men over the age of 60 have had a fracture, around one in three will have broken another bone within just a few years.

Leading study author Dr Jackie Center says: “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.”

“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, because there are good treatments available and these can halve the likelihood of a subsequent fracture” added Dr Center.

Currently, the majority of postmenopausal women and older men who have a fracture fail to get proper treatment that could help prevent a subsequent fracture. Part of the problem lies in getting other clinicians and the public to make the link between having a fracture and osteoporosis.

“Our new research shows that once men and women have had a fracture the chances of either having a second break are not only much higher but they are equivalent; thus the common public perception that osteoporosis affects mainly elderly women is misconceived” says co-author and clinician Professor John Eisman, who heads Garvan’s Bone & Mineral Research Program.

Osteoporosis affects more than two million Australians. Economic consultancy Access Economics estimates the total cost to Australia, which includes factors such as carers and lost income to be $7 billion per year i.e. almost $20 million every day. Aside from these financial costs fractures often affect mobility are linked to depression and loss of confidence in older people and increase the risk of dying prematurely more so in men.

The teams’ findings, published this week in a leading international scientific publication is based on the Garvan’s ongoing Dubbo Osteoporosis Epidemiology (population) Study which has almost two decades worth of data from several thousand people male and female.