Osteoporosis is typically considered a concern for postmenopausal women.
But according to a small new study, a surprisingly large number of young and middle-aged men are at risk of developing the condition.
Scientists say that almost one in three men between the ages of 35 and 50 have osteopenia, a condition that causes weak bones and is a precursor to osteoporosis.
The team, from the University of Mississippi, says the findings show that doctors need to scan and monitor adults from a younger age, as well as for more education and awareness among children of their risk.
A new study from the University of Mississippi has shown that 28% of men and 26% of women between 35 and 50 have osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis (file image)
Almost 10 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis, a disease in which the bones become weak and brittle.
Fractures, especially of the hip, can have serious consequences. Complications of a hip fracture lead to permanent disability rates of 50 percent.
In addition, women have a death rate of 15 to 20 in the year following the injury and men have a death rate of 33 percent.
For the study, published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, the team looked at the bone mineral density of nearly 200 adults between 35 and 50 years old.
The adults were scanned on the hip and lumbar spine or lower back, two areas known to be prone to fractures.
The results showed that 26 percent of the female participants had both osteopenia and 28 percent of the male participants.
Osteopenia occurs when the bones are weaker than normal, but not yet at the point where they break easily.
The condition usually has no visible symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose without a bone mineral density test.
& # 39; Men are at a potentially greater risk than we ever thought and it was certainly more than what they expected & # 39 ;, wrote co-author Dr. Allison Ford, professor of health, exercise science and recreational management at the University of Mississippi, DailyMail .com.
However, she noted that since the study included a small number of participants, more large-scale studies were needed to replicate the findings before we can know if they are translating to the general public.
The researchers say the best way to maintain bone health is through weight-bearing exercises such as walking, jogging, walking, and dancing.
These exercises force the bones to work against gravity and, by supporting weight, become stronger.
More than half of the participants said they were practicing, including the majority of male participants, who usually indicated that they had cycled.
Dr. Ford says that although cycling is a good training for the cardiovascular system, it is not a weight-bearing exercise and therefore not ideal for strengthening the bones.
She added that the majority of the US does not meet the recommended exercise guidelines – only about 20 percent do – which means that this finding does not necessarily have to be translated to the general population.
Dr. Ford said another reason for the low bone density of adults might be that they did not get enough calcium and vitamin D in their diets, which may have affected their osteoporosis risk.
In fact, most participants said they consumed less than three servings of dairy per day.
& # 39; We are now in a society of unhealthy habits when it comes to what we eat and exercise, as we saw in the obesity epidemic & # 39 ;, said Dr. Ford.
& # 39; So if you are not aware of your diet and do not get enough vitamin D and calcium, you will have a lower bone density. & # 39;
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