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Epidemiology and etiology of osteoporosis in men

Joel S Finkelstein, MD
Section Editor
Clifford J Rosen, MD
Deputy Editor
Jean E Mulder, MD


Osteoporosis is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in elderly people. While less common in men than women, about 1.5 million men over age 65 years in the United States have osteoporosis and another 3.5 million men are at risk [1].

The disorders that cause osteoporosis in men are similar to those in women (table 1). Epidemiological surveys suggest that causes or contributing factors for osteoporosis can be identified in 40 to 60 percent of men who have osteoporotic fractures [2-4]. Hypogonadism, glucocorticoid therapy, gastrointestinal disease, vitamin D deficiency, anti-convulsant drug therapy, hypercalciuria, and alcohol abuse were among the most common identifiable causes of osteoporosis in these surveys [3-6].

The epidemiology and etiology of osteoporosis in men will be reviewed here. Fracture risk assessment and the evaluation and treatment of osteoporosis in men are discussed separately. (See "Osteoporotic fracture risk assessment" and "Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and evaluation of osteoporosis in men" and "Treatment of osteoporosis in men".)


In men, as in women, the incidence of hip fractures increases exponentially with age, although the increase begins approximately 10 years later (figure 1) [7].

The following observations illustrate the magnitude of the problem in men:


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Nov 22, 2013.
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