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Osteoporosis affects about 25 percent of all men as yong as age 36 and affects 35 million Americans at an annual cost of $13 billion... A 1995 study published in the British Journal of Rheumatology pointed out that 30 percent of all hip fractures occur in men. Vertebral fractures are much more common in men than once thought, according to the study. The female-to-male ratio is only two to one. According to Dr. Allan Gold, an endocrinologist and senior physician at Montreal General Hospital, a recent Canadian survey showed that 20 percent of men have serious bone loss in their vertebrae, and by the age of 70, the figure is as high as 30 percent. Dr. Gold said "men in their 80's have a fracture rate that is equal to the rate of women."

Strong bones require the action of two cells in the body. Osteoblasts use dietary calcium and minerals to manufacture new bones, while osteoclasts clear away the old bones. When the old bones are cleared away faster than they can be replaced, the result is osteoporosis. The sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone, hold the balance between bone growth and bone loss.

There are numerous risk factors for osteoporosis. If you take Corticosteroid prescription medications, you are predisposed to this condition, according to Dr. Gold. Other risk factors include alcoholism, chronic bowel disease, which may result in malabsorption of nutrients, hyperthyroidism and smoking.

Men should be sure that they get enough calcium and vitamin D in their diet. Vitamin D is needed to help absorb calcium. Men should also have a bone density test, especially if they are on corticosteroids. The bone-density test is a simple non-invasive test that measures the thickness of some of the major bones in the body. It only takes a few minutes to perform.

[The Institute of Nutrititional Science Journal, Vol. 5.8, July/August 2001]

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