Osteoporosis are often seen among older adults, but new research shows that more people are experiencing bone weakening at a younger age.
Men are also shown to fare even worse than women, which is surprising as older women are typically the ones who are diagnosed with osteoporosis.
In a new paper published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, researchers analyzed the bone mineral density of 173 adults between 35 and 50 years of age.
Findings show that 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are afflicted with osteopenia, which is known to be a precursor to osteoporosis.
Osteopenia and osteoporosis are related diseases referring to loss of bone mineral density, just of varying degrees.
"We typically associate loss of bone mineral density with post-menopausal women, but our findings showed elevated risk in younger men," said lead author Martha Ann Bass, PhD from the University of Mississippi in a statement. "Almost all participants who were found to have osteopenia were surprised and I think this is a more prevalent issue than anyone expected."
The results suggest that middle-aged adults could benefit with bone health assessments to understand their risks of developing osteoporosis in the future.
Symptoms Of Brittle Bones
Osteopenia typically occurs without symptoms, because at its early stages, loss of bone density is not painful. Instead, people can get diagnosed if they get their bone mineral density measured.
Of course, when the bones have already been weakened, symptoms will emerge such as back pain, loss of height, stooped posture, and propensity for bone fractures.
Tips For Stronger Bones
Peak bone mineral density is known to occur at about 30 years old, but while it naturally declines with age, there are habits that individuals can do to decrease their risk of osteopenia or osteoporosis.
Bass advises adults to maintain bone mineral density with regular weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, running, and jumping. Moderate weight lifting is also recommended, but older adults should be cautious of heavy weights.
A healthy diet is always important, but Bass explained that many adults place too much importance on the benefits of calcium on their bones. Calcium, she said, is most beneficial when the bones are still developing. To adults, weight-bearing exercises are the best way to keep the bones strong and healthy.
"It really does boil down to use it or lose it," Bass concluded.