Two new studies released this week shine a spotlight on men's bone health which is often overshadowed by the focus on osteoporosis and fracture risk in women. The findings are being presented at the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) 2018 Annual Meeting in Montréal, the premier scientific meeting in the world on bone, mineral and musculoskeletal science

Canadian researchers found that men had a three-fold higher risk of sustaining a secondary fracture within one year of a first fracture compared to those who did not, while the risk for women with a prior fracture was only 1.8 times higher compared to women without one.

The large and long-term study looked at the risk of subsequent fractures at the hip, spine, forearm and the upper arm in 17,721 men and 57, 783 women over 50 years of age in Canada over a period of 25 years (1989-2006).

Suzanne Morin, M.D., M. Sc., FRCPC, FACP, Associate Professor of Medicine, McGill University and her colleagues found that while the risk of secondary fracture was elevated in both men and women during that time period, it was highest in the first three years following a prior fracture.

"These results underscore the importance of timely recognition of fracture events especially in men, a population in whom secondary prevention is under-implemented, "said Morin. "This tells us we should be focusing on anti-fracture strategies early after the fracture event."

Another study presented by researchers from the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study is the first to show the relationship between different levels of physical activity and bone strength in older men. While numerous studies have shown the effects of exercise in women, this study evaluated nearly 1,000 older men (with a mean age of 84) and their time spent doing exercise vs. those that were sedentary.

Risk of secondary fractures

Researchers found that those that spent more time engaged in the at least moderate physical activity (including housework and some sports such as walking, golf, softball, and tai-chi) and those with greater total activity over a period of seven years had higher bone strength measures with resultant lower risk of fracture.

"Older men are at a higher risk of life-altering fractures. This was a breakthrough to finally have data to show that physical activity among men late in life was related to bone strength and fracture risk, therefore showing that remaining active over the life-course could reduce the risk of these fractures," said Lisa Langsetmo, Ph.D., M.Sc., Senior Research Associate, University of Minnesota.

"These two studies really show the importance of gains in bone mass for both men and women and how bone health and risk of osteoporosis is not just an issue for women," said Michael Econs, M.D., ASBMR Council President and endocrinology and metabolism specialist and professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

"We need to be vigilant in sharing the benefits of building bone mass for men living longer and who are twice as likely to die within the first year of a hip fracture compared to women."