Peter Sayer reports from the 2018 American Geriatrics Society annual scientific meeting, Orlando, Florida.

Osteoporosis—a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from tissue loss— poses a significant but often silent threat to men, too few of whom recognise the disease or indications they may be at risk because osteoporosis is often associated with women’s health specifically.

Clinical practice guidelines also vary regarding the age when osteoporosis screenings should begin for men, in part because the specific age threshold when screenings become effective for men without other fracture risks remains unknown.

In this new study, researchers used data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the US Department of Veterans Affairs to look critically at osteoporosis screenings and bone fracture cases among men between the ages of 65 and 99 years. Of more than 183,000 men screened for osteoporosis, 18% were over the age of 80 years. For these individuals, screenings were associated with a 15% lower risk for fractures compared to the risk for the rest of the older male population.

Additionally, the proportion of men in the study who met thresholds to receive at least one prescription for an osteoporosis medication was slightly higher in men older than 80 years than it was for younger individuals. Findings not only support universal osteoporosis screenings for all men over age 85 but also suggest that men as young as 65 years may benefit from diagnostic evaluation when certain risk factors are present.