Baillière's best practice and research in clinical endocrinology and metabolism vol:14 issue:2 pages:299-315
The lifetime risk of any fracture of the hip, spine or distal forearm in men aged 50 years has been estimated to be 13%, compared with 40% in women. Although the overall incidence of osteoporosis is less in men than in women, the disease still represents an important public health problem. In particular, hip fractures are associated with substantial mortality and morbidity, even more so than in women. In male patients presenting with osteoporotic fractures, major causes of skeletal fragility, such as hypogonadism, glucocorticoid excess, primary hyperparathyroidism and alcohol abuse, can often be identified. In as many as 50% of osteoporotic men, however, no aetiology can be found: these men suffer from a syndrome commonly referred to as idiopathic osteoporosis, which is presumably related to some type of osteoblast dysfunction. Recent evidence indicates that the loss of skeletal integrity in ageing men may be partially related to endocrine deficiencies, including vitamin D, androgen and/or oestrogen deficiency. While the consequences of vitamin D or oestrogen deficiency in women have been well established, the skeletal impact of these (partial) age-related deficiencies in men remains to be clarified. Osteoporosis in elderly men is a multifactorial disease, as it is in women. The prevention of osteoporosis should therefore focus not only on increasing the bone strength, but also on decreasing the risk of falls. However, the prevention and therapy of osteoporotic disorders in men are virtually unexplored. To date, the use of specific osteoporotic drugs in osteoporotic men is still based on reasonable but untested assumptions.