Sex steroid hormones affect bone density in menA study conducted by Dr. Channing J. Paller and associates of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore showed that lower serum levels of free estradiol and free testosterone and higher sex hormone – binding globulin (SHBG) concentrations are associated with low bone mineral density (BMD) in adult men. Sex steroid hormones have long been established to have an influence in the bone mineral density of older women, but are less well-studied in men.

The study involved 1,185 adult male participants in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III).

The researchers identified “consistent relationships” between low free estradiol, low free testosterone and high sex hormone – binding globulin with osteopenia.

Osteopenia is defined as a condition where bone mineral density is lower than normal. It has a BMD score of -1 to -2.5. It is considered by doctors as a precursor to osteoporosis, alhtough not all osteopenic patients will develop osteoporosis later on in life.

Lower levels of sex hormone – binding globulin appeared to also lower the incidence of osteopenia. The researchers concluded that future studies should consider the alteration of clinical management to screen for osteopenia in men of all ages who have low hormone levels, but do not necessarily meet the definition of hypogonadism.

According to Medscape:

These results “call for prospective studies looking at BMD and/or fracture risk in association with hormone levels,” Dr. Paller and colleagues conclude. “In particular, future studies should explore the question of altering clinical management to screen for osteopenia in men of all ages who have low hormone levels, but do not meet the clinical definition of hypogonadism.”