Wearing well: The key differences in how men and women's bodies age
How men and women age differently
This week: The skeleton
AFTER the menopause – when oestrogen levels fall dramatically – women rapidly lose bone strength, as the hormone helps bones to retain strengthening calcium. That is why, in the 10 years following the change, women lose up to 50 per cent of their bone mass.
But for men it is muscle that lessens with age – they start to lose this as their production of the hormone testosterone, key to muscle strength, falls at a rate of one per cent a year after the age of 40. In fact, over their lifetime, men will lose muscle at twice the rate of women.
Men don't start to lose bone strength until their 70s, when their ability to absorb calcium decreases (which also happens to women at this age).
A downside for older women is their bones may not benefit as much from exercise as men's do. Research published in the Journal of Osteoporosis in 2011 found that the large fall in oestrogen levels and subsequent drop in bone mass in women "appears to diminish their skeleton's responsiveness to exercise more than in men".
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