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Metabolism. 1977 Feb;26(2):171-8.

Comparative skeletal mass and radial bone mineral content in black and white women.


The age-related changes in both skeletal mass and muscle mass were directly measured in normal black women ages 30-80 yr. The levels of total-body calcium (TBCa) were determined with the use of in vivo neutron activation. The muscle mass was measured by wholebody counting of 40K. In the same population, the bone mineral content of the radius was measured using a photon absorptiometric technique. Although there was no significant difference in stature, black women had a greater skeletal mass and bone mineral content of the radius than age-matched white female subjects. When the TBCa values were normalized for body size (i.e., corrected for height and lean body mass), the TBCa was still higher for the black women but not as high as the absolute TBCa values. Clearly, it is the larger muscle mass (as reflected by the 40K measure) in relation to weight and height that accounts for this difference. The lower prevalence of fracture and osteoporosis observed in black women relative to white women is due in part to this greater quantity of skeleton. American black women with a higher bone density (i.e., skeletal mass) maintain mechanical integrity of the skeleton longer than individuals with a lower bone density. It is suggested that the larger muscle mass in black women is, in part, a determinant of their increased skeletal mass and is partly responsible for their apparent resistance to osteoporosis and fracture of the skeleton.

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