Osteoporosis and Men

I’m going on the radio tomorrow (Friday) on Bristol Community FM (BCfm on 93.2fm) at lunchtime as part of their coverage of International Women’s Day. Why me?  Because I’m working on a Yoga for Osteoporosis project, and osteoporosis, as everyone knows, affects women, right?

Well, yes, but it also affects men.  Not as many men are diagnosed as women are.  Half of women over 50, statistically speaking, have bone fragility, compared to one quarter of men over 50 (or one fifth depending on where you source your statistics).  However, some unexpected findings I have recently come across (thank you Loren Fishman, M.D.) inform us that men with osteoporosis have a higher risk of fracture than women! Surprising, isn’t it?

Well, maybe not… apparently (and I use this word because all my research is both preliminary and secondary at this stage) the diagnosis is relative to women.  Let me explain this.  Currently the best way of diagnosing osteoporosis is by use of a DEXA scan, which compares your bone mineral density (BMD) to that of a healthy 25-30 year old (peak bone health age apparently – there’s that word again), which gives your T-scores.  It also compares your BMD to that of people of a similar age, height and weight, giving you your Z-score.  So, what’s the relevance to men with osteoporosis getting more fractures? … Well, apparently(!), all these comparisons that tell us whether or not we have osteoporosis are comparisons to the bones of women.

Now, women’s lib., sexism, and anything else you can throw at me aside…men and women are different.  Yes we are, just look down!  We have different physical structures, different hormones and often, at least until very recent in the history of mankind, different ways of living, acting, behaving, being. Men (ladies forgive me) in general are stronger physically.  There are of course exceptions and as time goes by and our lifestyles become more similar there will surely be many more damsels in tuxedos and knights in shining armour with frilly knickers.  Or put another way, our physical bodies will evolve based on how we use them, so as certain women take on more physical roles women will become stronger and as certain men take on more nurturing roles (or even desk jobs), they will become weaker. Okay I’m getting a little off-track here, so…

My point, that I’m finally getting around to making, is that currently men are stronger, thus men’s bones are stronger.  So if we compare these male bones to female bones and use this as a gauge to determine whether or not their BMD has decreased, are we perhaps looking at this the wrong way??

I remember years ago reading that almost all medications in the western world are tested on men in clinical trials.  For years it was deemed inappropriate to test new drugs on women, especially women of child-bearing age, because any side-effects might be passed onto any future children or prevent said children being born.  Didn’t these guys attend biology classes in school? I learned biology from a Born-Again Christian who didn’t believe the Theory of Evolution, but even I managed to grasp the concept that there are both male and female ingredients needed to cook up a child! Anyway, rambling again… So…as men and women have very different hormone blends streaming around inside and these are just chemicals, it didn’t quite make sense to me that drugs (more chemicals) would only be tested on the common male-variety chemical blend while the common female-variety blend wasn’t tested.  Similarly here, we’re different, we should be tested differently.

Anyway, that’s one point about osteoporosis that I wanted to mention.  There are many others which I will discuss on air tomorrow.  More points include: why yoga helps, what other activities can benefit, who can be affected by osteoporosis (subtle hint: anyone at any age!) when to start in your osteoporosis prevention scheme, and we may touch on the unpleasant topic of why we really, really want to avoid osteoporosis. I don’t want to scare-monger, but there are very serious repercussions from this (at least partially) preventable disease.  I’ll also briefly mention that I’ve teamed up with Iza Redon of La Cuisine to give a free talk on April 24th in Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol followed by a Workshop, on May 26th at Bristol City Yoga, on both yoga and nutritional considerations for osteoporosis prevention and treatment.  If you’d like to know more about this please contact me for further info or check out the Melt Into Yoga website.

And on a related note: does anyone know of some lovely, caring, affectionate people who might be interested in adopting a couple of elderly cats? – The princess and the dude.  Okay, not quite related, or at all in fact, but they’re sitting purring next to me, I’m moving home soon and can’t bring them with me.  I’ll miss them terribly so want to be sure they’re well looked after.  I’m sure I mentioned somewhere in my ‘About Me’ section on here that I may draw influence from cute kittens on my blog.  This isn’t quite what I meant…

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This entry was posted in Aging Gracefully, Bones, Health, Osteoporosis, Spinal Health, Yoga and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Osteoporosis and Men

  1. Here’s the podcast of the show, skip ahead to 6minutes to avoid the news:
    [audio src="http://bcfm.org.uk/wp-content/Podcasts/20130308130001.mp3" /]
    Just a couple of points: hip fractures are not the most common, but spinal fractures, contrary to what I said on air (this is largely what causes a loss of height as we age); not wearing sunscreen allows your body to create vitamin D from the sun, however, use caution!! Do NOT allow your skin to burn. Just a short spell every day of non-sunscreen sun will suffice, then give your skin some sun-free time and apply sunscreen as normal.

  2. Pingback: So, uh…what’s the big deal with Osteoporosis? | Melt Into Yoga Bristol

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