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Men, too, need bone density testing

WASHINGTON — New guidelines call for older men, as well as women, to get a routine check for bone-thinning osteoporosis.

Also, a new computerized tool uses more than bone-density tests to predict who is at highest risk of breaking a bone, adding in factors such as whether a parent ever broke a hip. It's an effort to better target who really needs treatment and who can safely skip it.

New National Osteoporosis Foundation guidelines recommend a bone-mineral density X-ray test for all men 70 and older, just like women 65 and older have long been urged to get. (Men and women may need the tests sooner if other factors put them at high risk.)

"There's a recognition more so now than in the past that men are at risk," says Dr. Jay Magaziner of the University of Maryland medical school.

Postmenopausal women are still at greatest risk of osteoporosis, when bone-strengthening estrogen plummets. But a quarter of hip fractures occur in men, and as men live longer, the number who break a hip is steadily rising, Magaziner told a recent meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

More than half of fractures due to bone loss occur in people whose bones are thinning but aren't quite thin enough to be labeled osteoporosis. They're in a gray zone known as osteopenia.

In the United States, about 10-million people have osteoporosis and 34-million are estimated to have osteopenia. The government estimates that half of Americans older than 50 will be at risk of fractures from too-thin bones by 2020. In addition to a routine bone check for older men, the guidelines recommend:

• Check for osteoporosis risk factors in postmenopausal women and men 50 and older, to see who needs a bone test before their senior years.

• For adults older than 50, 1,200 milligrams a day of calcium and 800 to 1,000 international units a day of Vitamin D, more D than the government recommends.

• Regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercise.

Men, too, need bone density testing 02/25/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 8:56am]

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