Fascinating Research Into The Effect of Ethnicity on Your Bones
We know that genetics plays a big role in the way our bodies are built. So how does this affect osteoporosis sufferers?
Let’s take a look at some of the research talking specifically about ethnic differences in bone health.
The Role of Ethnicity in Bone Health and Fracture Risk
Researchers have traditionally focused on bone mineral density (BMD) to gauge fracture risk.
Numerous studies from the past have found that BMD is highest in African American and Hispanic women and lowest in Asian and Caucasian women¹. And this does offer insight into why some of the highest fracture rates are found amongst Caucasian women.
But higher BMD doesn’t explain everything. It doesn’t mean that ethnic groups with higher BMD always suffer from fewer fractures. Despite having higher bone density, the study found that African American women were more likely to die after a hip fracture², and sometimes needed longer to recover.
BMD is a major factor of overall bone strength, but it doesn’t provide the complete picture.
Recent studies have gone beyond just focusing on BMD. They also look at body size, bone structure, muscle strength, and the size and shape of your bones. Differences in muscle force and power are also important³.
A 2012 study integrated multiple factors together into one composite score to measure bone strength⁴. The researchers integrated: the strength of different components of the bone, bone size, bone geometry and BMD together into one “composite score”. This score was used to assess a sample of over 1900 women (premenopausal or in early perimenopause) of different ethnicities.
What they suggest is that body size and geometry affect your risk of fracture independent of bone mineral density. As a result, Asian women had higher composite scores compared to Caucasian women, despite Caucasian women having higher BMDs.
It’s possible that being Asian or Caucasian may put you at slightly higher risk of fracture than African American and Hispanic women. But as more research is undertaken, our understanding of how ethnicity affects our bones will change.
The one message that has stayed consistent throughout all the studies is that every woman needs to actively prevent osteoporosis, regardless of ethnicity!
Just consider these statistics from the International Osteoporosis Foundation: ⁵
- In the UK, 1 in 2 women will suffer from a fracture after the age of 50
- It’s projected that more than 50% of all osteoporotic hip fractures will occur in Asia by 2050
- The number of hip fractures in Canada is expected to quadruple by 2030
- More than 61 million men and women in the USA will be affected by osteoporosis by 2020
So it’s clear that no matter where you are from, or what your ethnic background is, osteoporosis will affect you or someone you know. In fact, more women experience fractures annually than breast cancer and coronary death combined².
Of course, it’s difficult to change what’s been given to us by genetics. But the main message I want to communicate is that YOU CAN dramatically change your bone health by making the right lifestyle choices — regardless of ethnicity.
That means exercising and eating right. And taking a calcium supplement that’s proven to strengthen your bones.
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