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January 2006

Male osteoporosis: new trends in diagnosis and therapy.

Osteoporosis is a common condition in men affecting approximately 2 million males in the US. Compared with women, osteoporosis develops later in life and the incidence of osteoporosis-related fractures is lower in men. The morbidity and mortality associated with osteoporotic fractures are much greater in men compared with women, and secondary causes of osteoporosis are more frequently (in approximately 50% of cases) identified in men compared with women with osteoporosis. Excessive alcohol consumption, glucocorticoid excess and hypogonadism are the most commonly identified causes. Primary osteoporosis in men has been linked to changes in sex steroid secretion, the growth hormone-insulin-like growth factor-1 (GH-IGF-1) axis and the vitamin D-parathyroid hormone (PTH) 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D]-PTH system. Diagnosing osteoporosis in men is complicated by an ongoing debate on whether to use sex-specific reference values for bone mineral density (BMD) or female reference values. The International Society for Clinical Densitometry recommended using a T score of -2.5 or less of male reference values to diagnose osteoporosis in men who are > or =65 years of age. However, this definition is yet to be validated in terms of fracture incidence and prevalence. Ensuring adequate calcium and vitamin D intake is the cornerstone of any regimen aimed at preventing or treating osteoporosis in men. Bisphosphonates are currently the therapy of choice for treatment of male osteoporosis. A short course of parathyroid hormone (1-34) [teriparatide] may be indicated for men with very low BMD or in those in whom bisphosphonate therapy is unsuccessful. The use of testosterone-replacement therapy for the prevention and treatment of male osteoporosis remains controversial but likely to benefit osteoporotic men with evident hypogonadism.

Drugs Aging. 2005;22(9):741-8

Andropause: is androgen replacement therapy indicated for the aging male?

The number of men in the United States > or =65 years of a ge is projected to increase from 14,452,000 in 2000 to 31,343,000 in 2030. Approximately 30% of men 60-70 years of age and 70% of men 70-80 years of age have low bioavailable or free testosterone levels. Symptoms and findings of testosterone deficiency are similar to those associated with aging. They include loss of energy, depressed mood, decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, decreased muscle mass and strength, increased fat mass, frailty, osteopenia, and osteoporosis. Several small clinical trials indicate that testosterone replacement therapy can improve many of these findings; however, the studies have not been powered to assess potential risks, such as the need for invasive treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia, development of a clinical prostate cancer, or cardiovascular events. Thus, the benefit/risk ratio of testosterone replacement therapy in aging men is not known.

Annu Rev Med. 2005;56:117-37

Climacteric medicine: European Menopause and Andropause Society (EMAS) 2004/2005 position statements on peri- and postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy.

In women experiencing distressing climacteric symptoms during the peri- and postmenopause there is conclusive evidence from abundant randomised controlled trials that systemic hormone replacement therapy (HRT) of any type affords symptom relief, with no alternative treatment producing similar effect. Though this evidence is accumulating, the question of how to provide best clinical practice in an attempt to both alleviate the menopausal symptoms and prevent the more long-term postmenopausal degenerative diseases is still under debate. When providing climacteric medicine, the dose and regimen of HRT needs to be individualised based on the principle of choosing the lowest appropriate dose in relation to severity of symptoms and on the menopausal age. However, few long-term data on different HRT formulations exist in symptomatic women, which also account for baseline risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), breast cancer and osteoporosis. In most cases, an individualized prescription together with life-style management will sustain possibilities for net beneficial effects on climacteric symptoms, quality of life (QoL), sexuality and osteoporosis, with only rare risk of severe adverse effects. With the perspective provided by recent epidemiological findings, not least from the estrogen only arm of the Women’s Health Initiative Study (WHI), European Menopause and Andropause Society (EMAS) supports research activities in symptomatic women with new HRT formulations in order to affect positively the balance of clinical benefit and risk, including specific information on QoL and also account for the traditional differences in treatment modalities between the US and Europe, and the difference in BMI, life-style and diet. In women experiencing an early menopause (<45 year) current data support a specific overall benefit of HRT. At present, more long-term systemic HRT may be considered in women at high risk of osteoporotic fractures, in particular when alternate therapies are either inappropriate or insufficiently effective, as benefits will outweigh any risks. In contrast, urogenital symptoms may be addressed efficiently and safely with long-term local estrogen therapy.

Maturitas. 2005 May 16;51(1):8-14

Smoking and hormones in health and endocrine disorders.

Smoking has multiple effects on hormone secretion, some of which are associated with important clinical implications. These effects are mainly mediated by the pharmacological action of nicotine and also by toxins such as thiocyanate. Smoking affects pituitary, thyroid, adrenal, testicular and ovarian function, calcium metabolism and the action of insulin. The major salient clinical effects are the increased risk and severity of Graves’ hyperthyroidism and opthalmopathy, osteoporosis and reduced fertility. Smoking also contributes to the development of insulin resistance and hence type 2 diabetes mellitus. An important concern is also the effect of smoking on the foetus and young children. Passive transfer of thiocyanate can cause disturbance of thyroid size and function. Furthermore, maternal smoking causes increased catecholamine production, which may contribute to under perfusion of the foetoplacental unit.

Eur J Endocrinol. 2005 Apr;152(4):491-9

Randomized trial of etidronate plus calcium and vitamin D for treatment of low bone mineral density in Crohn’s disease.

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Crohn’s disease causes an increase in osteopenia and osteoporosis. This study assessed the efficacy of adding etidronate to calcium and vitamin D supplementation for treatment of low bone mineral density in Crohn’s disease. METHODS: One hundred fifty-four patients with Crohn’s disease with decreased bone mineral density, determined by using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, were randomly assigned to receive etidronate (400 mg orally) or not for 14 days; both groups were then given daily calcium (500 mg) and vitamin D (400 IU) supplementation for 76 days. This cycle was repeated 8 times during a period of 24 months. Biochemical characteristics and bone mineral densities were assessed at 6, 12, and 24 months. RESULTS: After 24 months bone mineral density significantly increased from baseline in both the etidronate- and the non-etidronate-treated groups (both groups receiving calcium and vitamin D supplementation) at the lumbar spine (P < .001), ultradistal radius (P < .001), and trochanter (P = .004) sites, but not at the total hip. The increase in bone mineral density was similar in each treatment group. No bone mineral density differences were found when groups were analyzed according to gender, corticosteroid use, bone mineral density at baseline, or age. CONCLUSIONS: Low bone mineral density is frequently associated with Crohn’s disease. Supplementation with daily calcium and vitamin D is associated with increases in bone mineral density. The addition of oral etidronate does not further enhance bone mineral density.

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2005 Feb;3(2):122-32

Promoting general health during androgen deprivation therapy (ADT): a rapid 10-step review for your patients.

Androgen deprivation for prostate cancer use to be applied only in the latter stage of the disease process, thus, the issue of promoting general health during this time was not a concern because the subject of life and death was more paramount. However, thanks to earlier detection of prostate cancer, there has been a general stage migration in this disease. Men are choosing these traditionally late stage therapies earlier and earlier. Therefore, the subject of quality of life on this treatment has now garnered as much attention as the survival issues. Cognitive or mental health concerns, cholesterol changes, hot flashes, osteoporosis, and other side effects are being addressed and treated with a variety of conventional medicines. However, the issue of the role of the patient or what men can do personally to promote better mental and physical health is desperately needed in this area. A variety of beneficial lifestyle changes and over-the-counter agents may have an enormous impact on men’s health during androgen deprivation. Calcium and vitamin D supplements, aerobic and resistance exercise, cholesterol awareness and reduction, weight loss, and other individual changes could have an enormous impact on the quality and quantity of a man’s life. Some of these so called “bottom line” recommendations are reviewed in this article to empower the patient during this time, and to send clearly the message that he has a role to play apart from just picking up and using a prescription drug for side effects, and his role is just as critical for improving the probability of living longer and better.

Urol Oncol. 2005 Jan-Feb;23(1):56-64

Evidence-based guidelines for the prevention and treatment of glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis: a consensus document of the Belgian Bone Club.

Glucocorticoids (GCs) are frequently prescribed for various inflammatory and/or life-threatening conditions concerning many systems in the body. However, they can provoke many aftereffects, of which osteoporosis (OP) is one of the most crippling complications, with its host of fractures. The dramatic increase in bone fragility is mainly attributable to the GC-induced rapid bone loss in all skeletal compartments. We have reviewed the meta-analyses and randomized controlled studies reporting medical therapeutic interventions currently registered in Belgium for the management of GC-OP comparatively with a placebo. Based on this research, an expert meeting developed a consensus on the prevention and therapy of GC-OP. The pathophysiology of GC-OP is complex. Several factors, acting separately or synergistically, have been described. Their great number could help to understand the rapidity of bone loss and of bone fragility occurrence, indicating that a rapid therapeutic intervention should be implemented to avoid complications. All patients on GCs are threatened with OP, so the prevention and/or therapy of GC-OP should be considered not only for postmenopausal females, but also for osteopenic premenopausal females and for males put on a daily dose of at least 7.5 mg equivalent prednisolone that is expected to last at least 3 months. Non-pharmacological interventions, such as exercise and avoidance of tobacco and alcohol, should be recommended, even if their role is not definitely settled in GC-OP prevention. Supplemental calcium and vitamin D should be considered as the first-line therapy because of the decrease in intestinal calcium absorption provoked by GCs. They also could be considered either as isolated therapy in patients taking less than 7.5 mg prednisolone daily and/or for a predicted period shorter than 3 months or as adjuvant therapy to other more potent drugs. Hormone replacement therapy could be considered in young postmenopausal females on GC, such as in postmenopausal OP, or in men with low androgen levels. Calcitonin appears to have a protective effect on trabecular bone in GC-OP, just as in postmenopausal OP. There is an increasing body of evidence supporting the antifracture efficacy of bisphosphonates, notably alendronate and risedronate. Preventative and curative therapy of GC-OP should be maintained as long as the patient is on GC treatment and could be stopped after weaning from GC, because there is more than circumstantial evidence of some recovery of BMD when GCs are stopped. There is no indication in GC-OP for any combination of two antiresorptive agents (except for calcium and vitamin D) or for an antiresorptive and an anabolic agent. There is indeed no proof that the increased costs of combined treatments will translate into increased therapeutic efficacy.

Osteoporos Int. 2005 Oct 11

Gender differences in health habits and in motivation for a healthy lifestyle among Swedish university students.

The aim of the present study was to investigate gender differences in students’ health habits and motivation for a healthy lifestyle. The sample of students comprised a probability systematic stratified sample from each department at a small university in the south-west of Sweden (n = 479). A questionnaire created for this study was used for data collection. Self-rated health was measured by number of health complaints, where good health was defined as having less than three health complaints during the last month. A healthy lifestyle index was computed on habits related to smoking, alcohol consumption, food habits, physical activity and stress. Female students had healthier habits related to alcohol consumption and nutrition but were more stressed. Male students showed a high level of overweight and obesity and were less interested in nutrition advice and health enhancing activities. The gender differences are discussed in relation to the impact of stress on female students’ health, and the risk for male students in having unhealthy nutritional habits in combination with being physically inactive and drinking too much alcohol.

Nurs Health Sci. 2005 Jun;7(2):107-18

Reference values for serum silicon in adults.

Silicon is an essential nutrient of fundamental importance to human biology. It has been shown that silicon is required for bone, cartilage, and connective tissue formation. However, the assessment of silicon concentration is difficult as reference values are lacking. The aim of the present study was to establish reference values for apparently healthy individuals. Silicon concentrations were determined in serum of 1325 healthy subjects 18-91 years of age using atomic absorption spectrometry. Medians for serum silicon concentrations showed a statistically significant age and sex dependency. In men 18-59 years of age the median was 9.5 micromol/L and decreased to 8.5 micromol/L at 60-74 years of age. In women there was an increase in the median from age 18-29 years (10.00 micromol/L) to 30-44 years (11.10 micromol/L) followed by a decrease in the age group of 45-59 years (9.23 micromol/L). In subjects aged over 74 years the median serum silicon values were 7.70 micromol/L for men and 8.00 micromol/L for women. The most important findings in this study are the decrease of silicon and the course of the silicon concentrations with age, especially in women. The present study is an important prerequisite for studies that aim to identify the health effects and medical implications of silicon.

Anal Biochem. 2005 Feb 1;337(1):130-5