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Chemosphere. 2011 Feb;82(9):1268-76. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2010.12.031. Epub 2010 Dec 31.

Associations of fat mass and lean mass with bone mineral density differ by levels of persistent organic pollutants: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2004.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, School of Medicine, Daegu Catholic University Hospital, Daegu, South Korea.


Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), xenobiotics that accumulate in fat tissue, may impair bone metabolism. We studied (1) the association of bone mineral density (BMD) with POPs and (2) whether associations of fat mass (FM) or lean mass (LM), two components of body composition, with BMD differed depending on levels of POPs. Participants aged ≥ 20 in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2004 were included (n=2769). Eight POPs with detection rate ≥ 80% and three skeletal subregions (left arm, pelvis, and right leg) were selected. All analyses were stratified by gender and age (cutpoint 50 years or more). POPs at background concentrations were mostly unassociated with BMD. However, the associations of FM and LM with BMD depended on POPs concentrations, in particular with BMD of the left arm (usually not weight-bearing) in postmenopausal women. When POPs concentrations were low, FM showed inverse associations with BMD while LM showed positive associations. However, when POPs levels were high, FM showed positive associations with BMD while the positive associations between LM and BMD weakened. POPs may biologically modify the associations of FM and LM with BMD, especially among postmenopausal women, possibly explaining inconsistent associations between FM and BMD in previous epidemiological studies.

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