A study has found that 28% of men and 26% of women between the ages of 35 and 50 years have osteopenia and are at risk for osteoporosis.
A new study has revealed that more than 1 in 4 people between the ages of 35 and 50 years have osteopenia and are at risk for osteoporosis. Considering that loss of bone mineral density (BMD) is typically associated with postmenopausal women, the researchers were surprised to find an elevated risk of osteoporosis among younger and middle-aged men, of whom 28% were at risk. The study showed that 26% of women within the same age range were at risk.
According to the researchers, they were not the only ones surprised by the findings.
“Almost all participants who were found to have osteopenia were surprised, and I think this is a more prevalent issue than anyone expected,” said Martha Ann Bass, PhD, associate professor of Health, Exercise Science, and Recreational Management at the University of Mississippi, and lead author of the study, in a statement.
Osteopenia can lead to osteoporosis in older age, highlighting the importance of targeting men and women in the age group for osteoporosis screening and prevention programs focused on maintaining BMD with nutritious diets that include adequate amounts of vitamin D and calcium.
It’s estimated that by 2025, there will be more than 3 million fractures as a result of osteoporosis, costing $25.3 billion annually. To address and mitigate this burden, the researchers recommended that payers offer incentives to people younger than 50 years to participate in activities that reverse modifiable risk factors of osteoporosis, such as quitting smoking, participating in weight-bearing exercises, and increasing calcium intake.
The study analyzed BMD from 173 adults recruited from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and in the local community. BMD was obtained from the femoral hip (femoral neck, trochanter, intertrochanter crest, and total femur) and lumbar spine, and participants answered a questionnaire inquiring about calcium intake, exercise frequency, gender, smoking habits, family history of BMD, and any history of musculoskeletal injury.
The researchers found that exercise frequency among men was significantly and negatively correlated with femoral neck BMD whereas exercise frequency was significantly and positively correlated with trochanter, intertrochanteric crest, total femur, and lumbar spine BMDs.
Body mass index (BMI) also influenced BMD. For men, weight and BMI were significantly related to BMDs of the trochanter, intertrochanteric crest, total femur, and lumbar spine.
“Women had a significant relationship with weight at each site; however, BMI was significant only for the femoral sites but not the lumbar spine,” noted the researchers.
They recommended that future studies look at the hormonal status of men and women, serum vitamin D3 levels, genetic influences, and medical conditions that might influence BMD.
Bass M, Sharma A, Nahar V, et al. Bone mineral density among men and women aged 35 to 50 years. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2019;119(6):357-363. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2019.064.