A number of news organizations reported yesterday that a study shows some older men may benefit from osteoporosis screening and treatment. This is true. But this is an unusual type of study, one that has very few implications for individuals. Let's look.
Bottom line first: Screening and Treatment for Male Osteoporosis
It may be cost effective, from a public health and government spending perspective, to give bone scans and, if called for, bone-building drugs to some groups of men.
This study in around 50 words
Using existing osteoporosis studies, researchers used computer models to compare the costs and benefits of identifying and treating men of various ages. Using standard formulations, they determined it would be cost-effective to identify and treat men over 65 who have a previous bone fracture, and all men over 80.
Yes, but. . .
This kind of study is done to determine the social costs--both literal (in dollars) and figurative (in quality of life measures)--of treatment compared to non-treatment. The findings have no implications for treatment of individuals--which should, as always, be based on individual risk in consultation with one's doctor.
Most of the named authors reported receiving money from drug companies, including Merck, the maker of Fosamax, the drug whose costs and benefits were used in the calculations.
The results apply only to white men in the U.S. Black and Hispanic men as groups tend to have lower osteoporosis risk.
So what are you going to do about it?
Older men, especially those who have broken bones in the past, may want to discuss the value of osteoporosis screening with their doctors. This is not changed by this study; older men should discuss their bone health and risk factors with their physicians.
Meantime, both men and women should follow bone-health best practices: regular weight-bearing exercise; not smoking; and a healthy diet supplemented, if necessary, with calcium and vitamin D.
Learn more about male osteoporosis
Read Dr. Neil Gonter's thoughts on male osteoporosis.
Ask questions or read postings by any of our four osteoporosis experts.
Read this SharePost from our researcher/advocate Rose Chon, in which she shares nutrition advice--and some recipes--for strong bones.
Learn more about osteoporosis medications here.
View one of our videos on various aspects of bone health.
Published On: August 08, 2007