The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Variation in bone mineral density of the proximal femur: It is not just about age and sex


Department of Physical Therapy, Clarkson University

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Changes in bone mineral density (BMD) over a lifetime increases the risk of fractures. More than 40 million people in the United States suffer from low BMD. Older women of European descent are most at risk of developing hip fractures due to low BMD. Even though researchers recognize BMD variation in different populations, BMD averages do not account for other patterns of variation, such as regional variation, in human populations.

This study presents evidence of regional variation in the BMD of the femoral neck, intertrochanteric region, and shaft of Americans of African and European descent. Data consisting of a sample of 9,416 individuals from NHANES III were analyzed by means of a discriminant function analysis to show patterns of variation unique to the northeastern, midwestern, southern, and western regions of the United States. All data were collected by the National Center for Health Statistics using a Hologic DXA scanner and a hip structural analysis program.

The results of the analysis demonstrate variation in the rate of speed and quantity of BMD loss. Males of African descent and females of European descent living in the northeast exhibit the fastest BMD loss whereas males of European descent exhibit the fastest BMD loss in the west. Women of African descent show more equal distributions of BMD in all regions. However, when considering BMD quantity, males of African and European descent show the greatest loss in the Midwest. In females, women of African and European descent show the greatest BMD loss in the Northeast.

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