Since his early college career and through 14 years with the Celtics, Larry Bird, 58, has played almost every position in basketball and held every post from coach to president (today) of the Indiana Pacers. But, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, that doesn’t mean he isn’t at risk for low bone density and osteoporosis -- 13 percent of white men in the United States over age 50 will experience at least one osteoporosis-related fracture during their lifetime. In fact, around 8 to 13 million American men have low bone density, and 2 million have osteoporosis -- and their health outcomes after a fracture are worse than women’s. After a hip fracture, men 50 and older have a much greater loss of independence than women and are twice as likely to die from the condition.
Why do women, who account for 80 percent of the 10 million Americans with osteoporosis, fare better than men? According to recent research, women accept osteoporosis screening if offered; but only 25 percent of men do. Women are also four times more likely than men to take calcium and vitamin D supplements to strengthen bones.
So, guys over 50: Get a bone density screening. (We both have.) It’s especially important if you’ve taken prostate cancer drugs. Also, ask your doc how much calcium and vitamin D you should take daily. And remember, strong muscles help maintain healthy bones. Start a walking and a strength-training program (details at sharecare.com). Larry wouldn’t want you to sit on the bench for this challenge.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.