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Am J Clin Nutr. 1996 Sep;64(3):354-60.

A multicenter study of the influence of fat and lean mass on bone mineral content: evidence for differences in their relative influence at major fracture sites. Early Postmenopausal Intervention Cohort (EPIC) Study Group.

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School of Public Health, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, USA.


We examined the relative influence of fat and lean mass on bone mineral content (BMC) among 1600 early postmenopausal women aged 45-59 y from four geographical locations (Nottingham, United Kingdom; Portland, OR; Honolulu; and Copenhagen). Bone sites investigated included the major fracture sites: hip, spine, and radius. Body weight had strong associations at all skeletal sites examined [BMC differences of 4-6% per interquartile range (IQR) of weight]. Associations with the fat and lean components of weight were more variable. The BMC differences per IQR of lean mass were 5-7% at the hip sites, 3% at the spine, and 2% at the radial sites. The greater differences for lean mass at the hip may reflect the high physical mobility and muscular activity of this site. The BMC differences per IQR of fat mass were 4-6% at the hip sites, 4% at the spine, and 5% at the ultradistal radius. These results suggest that low fat mass or low lean mass, particularly at the extremes, may adversely affect the major fracture sites. The bone sites with the greatest differences for fat mass were the most highly trabecular sites. With only a few exceptions, the associations of BMC with fat mass and lean mass were similar in direction and comparable in magnitude across the four geographic locations. We conclude that both fat and lean mass have independent influences on bone mass, but that their relative influence may vary by bone site depending on the trabecular content, physical mobility, and muscularity of the site.

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