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Better bones for blokes

Monday 18 October 2004

Better bones for blokes

New Zealand athlete of the century Peter Snell wants greater recognition of the bone-weakening disease osteoporosis as one affecting men as well as women.

Dr Snell has thrown his weight behind the International Osteoporosis Foundation’s campaign to raise awareness of osteoporosis in men - theme for 2004 World Osteoporosis Day on 20 October.

Once seen as a women-only problem, osteoporosis is now rampant among men, “thanks to our 21st century lifestyle,” says Dr Snell. “Our blokes’ bones can suffer from lack of exercise, excessive alcohol, smoking and poor dietary habits. The statistics tell us that up to one-in-five men over 50 will suffer an osteoporosis fracture, and for men over 60, it’s one-in-three.”

Still competing in orienteering events at 65, Snell says he’s “acutely aware” of the need for sound bones to support the stresses of rigorous training. “I believe the key to preserving strong bones as you age and levels of bone-building hormones get lower, is to keep physically active, eat a calcium-rich diet, refrain from smoking and drink alcohol in moderation.

“These are simple strategies that not only will protect your bones, but reduce the risk of disability from other silent diseases as well.”

To promote awareness of male osteoporosis, the Foundation has also released a report entitled “Osteoporosis in Men – the ‘silent epidemic’ strikes men too.”

Among the findings in the report:

Fragility fractures are less common in men than in women, but these fractures can be associated with higher morbidity and death than in women The lack of awareness of osteoporosis and fractures as a disease in men is similar to the lack of awareness in women 50 years ago The lifetime risk of a man suffering an osteoporotic fracture is greater than his likelihood of developing prostate cancer


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