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Int J Epidemiol. 2007 Oct;36(5):1143-50. Epub 2007 Jul 26.

Experience of famine and bone health in post-menopausal women.

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Department of Community and Family Medicine, School of Public Health, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR.



Famines have occurred in all areas of the world in every period of history. Many studies have shown that poor growth and development and adverse environmental conditions in childhood are associated with osteoporosis in later life. However, little information is available on the relation between famine and bone health.


This study examines the hypothesis that past experience of famine has an adverse impact on bone health, using data from Ms Os (Hong Kong), a large cohort study on osteoporosis in Asian women. There were 1,826 Hong Kong women aged 65 years or older recruited from the community. A standardized, structured interview and DXA were performed. Subjects who had experienced famine tended to have lower levels of education, social status and current daily calcium intake. They also have higher rates of cigarette consumption, depression and coronary heart disease.


After adjustment for confounders, we found that subjects who had experienced famine have a significantly higher rate of developing osteoporosis than those who had not.


We conclude that past exposure to famine, especially in childhood, is associated with osteoporosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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