Background: Despite its association with disability, death, and increased medical costs, osteoporosis in men has been relatively neglected as a subject of study. There have been no large, controlled trials of treatment in men.
Methods: In a two-year double-blind trial, we studied the effect of 10 mg of alendronate or placebo, given daily, on bone mineral density in 241 men (age, 31 to 87 years; mean, 63) with osteoporosis. Approximately one third had low serum free testosterone concentrations at base line; the rest had normal concentrations. Men with other secondary causes of osteoporosis were excluded. All the men received calcium and vitamin D supplements. The main outcome measures were the percent changes in lumbar-spine, hip, and total-body bone mineral density.
Results: The men who received alendronate had a mean (+/-SE) increase in bone mineral density of 7.1+/-0.3 percent at the lumbar spine, 2.5+/-0.4 percent at the femoral neck, and 2.0+/-0.2 percent for the total body (P<0.001 for all comparisons with base line). In contrast, men who received placebo had an increase in lumbar-spine bone mineral density of 1.8+/-0.5 percent (P<0.001 for the comparison with base line) and no significant changes in femoral-neck or total-body bone mineral density. The increase in bone mineral density in the alendronate group was greater than that in the placebo group at all measurement sites (P<0.001). The incidence of vertebral fractures was lower in the alendronate group than in the placebo group (0.8 percent vs. 7.1 percent, P=0.02). Men in the placebo group had a 2.4-mm decrease in height, as compared with a decrease of 0.6 mm in the alendronate group (P=0.02). Alendronate was generally well tolerated.
Conclusions: In men with osteoporosis, alendronate significantly increases spine, hip, and total-body bone mineral density and helps prevent vertebral fractures and decreases in height.