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Osteoporos Int. 1999;10(5):384-91.

Determinants of bone loss in elderly men and women: a prospective population-based study.

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  • 1The MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, UK.


While several studies have described the rate and pattern of involutional bone loss in women, far less information is available for men. Furthermore, the roles of lifestyle and body build in determining bone loss rate in both sexes have been largely extrapolated from cross-sectional studies. We addressed this issue in a population-based longitudinal study which sought to ascertain rates of bone loss at the femoral neck and lumbar spine in a cohort of men and women aged 60-75 years at baseline, and to relate this loss to anthropometric and lifestyle variables. We additionally investigated the capacity of biochemical markers of bone turnover to predict bone loss rates in these subjects. Women lost bone at all sites; this ranged from 0.20%/year at the lumbar spine to 1.43%/year at the femoral trochanteric region. By contrast, men lost only 0. 20%/year at the trochanteric region, and gained at the lumbar spine (0.33%/year) and at Ward's triangle (0.27%/year) over the 4-year period. Anthropometric measurements were associated with bone loss in both sexes; lower baseline body mass index (BMI) and a greater rate of loss of adiposity over the follow-up period were both associated with greater bone loss at all proximal femoral sites. These attained statistical significance after Bonferroni correction at the total proximal femur among both men (r = 0.29), p<0.01) and women (r = 0.31, p<0.05). Lifestyle factors associated with lower rates of bone loss (after adjustment for BMI) included alcohol consumption at the femoral neck among women (p = 0.007) and physical activity at the lumbar spine among men (p = 0.05). Serum parathyroid hormone, 25-hydroxyvitamin D and biochemical markers of bone turnover did not predict bone loss after adjustment for adiposity.

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