Why men need some weight at middle age

October 2, 2008

I am not advocating middle aged spread, but being too thin can be a real health risk for men. A study carried out at the University of Oslo on nearly 1,500 men over a 30-year period, has found that men who were relatively thin when young, or who lost weight as they aged, were at increased risk of osteoporosis, the brittle bone disease, when they were in their 70′s.

It’s often believed that it’s only women who are affected by osteoporosis, but this is just not the case. Because it is hard to identify without a bone scan, the first symptom is often an inexplicable bone break. I met one man who had only been diagnosed after his fourth fracture – as he played rugby it was put down to that, but his bones were breaking under very little pressure.

There are treatments available, usually your doctor will suggest drugs such as Fosamax, but excellent results have been seen in women using natural progesterone cream to rebuild bone. Not enough men have used it to say whether it is as effective for them, but it might be worth a try. Remember, your bones are constantly regenerating throughout your life. Old bone is drawn upon to supply instant demands for calcium (osteoclasts) and is replaced by new bone material (osteoblasts) to keep the skeleton strong. As we age, the process of rebuilding becomes less effective, and there is an overall loss of density, and the bones under examination can look almost lace-like when osteoporosis is well advanced.

If you want to avoid it, and there is a family predilection, then these are the factors that contribute most strongly to your losing bone density and strength – whether you are a man or a woman:

* Drinking too many colas as they are high in phosphorus which draws calcium from the bones.

* Not getting enough exercise – you need it to strengthen your bones.

* Eating too much fat from dairy and meat. Vegans and vegetarians have greater bone mass than meat eaters.

* Drinking too much alcohol as it interferes with calcium absorption.

* Excess coffee drinking as a study of nearly 83,000 patients showed a correlation between bone fractures and heavy coffee consumption.

* Smoking has been proven to increase bone loss.

* Some prescription drugs such as cortisone, blood thinners, antacids containing aluminum, chemotherapy, lithium, and certain antibiotics can increase bone loss.

* A junk food diet high in salt and sugar will leach calcium from the bones into the urine.

If you want to know more about the role of natural progesterone, a book I wrote with Dr Shirley Bond will give you more information. You will find details at the www.catalystonline.co.uk website. Plus, new research just presented to the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research is pointing towards compounds that could induce the body to treat itself for osteoporosis with the parathyroid hormone.

It is in the early stages of development, but it would probably involve a series of injections of a form of parathyroid hormone which triggers bone-building. Currently just using parathyroid drugs is extremely expensive – around £4000 a year – but it is hoped that the molecules reported here could be delivered much more cheaply and be more effective at promoting bone building.


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