Osteoporosis is a silent killer. This is even more true when it comes to men. Men are rarely screened for it and you don't feel the signs or symptoms.
And usually the only time men discover they have dangerously thinning bones is when they fall and break a bone.
When women hit menopause their bone loss declines sharply. For men, the bone loss is much more gradual. But doctors say if a man should suffer a fracture the complication risk is much worse.
"The mortality rate after a hip fracture is about twice as much in men as it is in women," said Dr. Alberto Odio, Alta California Medical Group.
Although fractures due to weak bones occur in one in four men over 50, it's difficult for men to detect it early because Medicare doesn't cover screening in men. So doctors have to look at risk factors. It's prevalent in Caucasian and Asian men with a sedentary lifestyle.
"If they have risk factors, one being if they're smokers, if they drink a lot of alcohol, more than two drinks a day," said Dr. Tannaz Zahirpour, Alta California Medical Group.
The first line treatment for men is same as women: Bisphosphonate drugs such as Boniva and Fosamax. But studies show they stop working after five years and they have side effects.
So doctors at Alta California Medical Group are testing a new drug called Odanacatib.
"This blocks the resporption of bone so that the osteoclasts is not as active, and so it allows the balance between making bone and losing bone to tilt in a positive direction," said Odio.
Men in the study receive free DEXA-scans as doctors follow their progress.
Odio recommends men over 60 get a one-time DEXA-scan to see where they are regardless of insurance coverage.
And men should talk to their doctor about taking calcium.
The study is still looking for participants.
Alta California Medical Group
2925 Sycamore Drive
Simi Valley, CA 93065