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Influence of Lifestyle factors on bone density in middle-aged and elderly men

The authors state that they examined the distribution of quantitative heel ultrasound (QUS) parameters in population samples of European men and looked at the influence of lifestyle factors on the occurrence of these parameters.  Men aged between 40 and 79 years were recruited from eight European centres and invited to attend for an interviewer-assisted questionnaire, assessment of physical performance, and quantitative ultrasound (QUS) of the calcaneus (Hologic; Sahara).  The relationships between QUS parameters and lifestyle variables were assessed using linear regression with adjustments for age, center, and weight. 3258 men mean age 60.0 years, were included in the analysis.
A higher PASE score (upper vs. lower tertile) was associated with a higher Broadband Ultrasound attenuation (BUA (b coefficient = 2.44 dB/Mhz), speed of sound (SOS) (b = 6.83 m/s), and quantitative ultrasound index (QUI) (b = 3.87). Compared to those who were inactive, those who walked or cycled more than an hour per day had a higher BUA (b = 3.71 dB/Mhz), SOS (b = 6.97 m/s), and QUI (b = 4.50).  A longer time to walk 50 ft was linked with a lower BUA (b = -0.62 dB/ Mhz), SOS (b = -1.06 m/s), and QUI (b = -0.69). Smoking was associated with a reduction in BUA, SOS, and there was an inverse  U-shaped association with frequency of alcohol consumption.  Modification of lifestyle, including increasing physical activity and stopping smoking, may help optimize bone strength and reduce the risk of fracture in middle-aged and elderly European men.
Professor R Curtis Ellison comments:  Most studies show that moderate drinkers have greater bone density than abstainers, and many studies show that the risk of falls and fractures is lower among moderate drinkers.  The present analysis utilised heel ultrasound measurements to estimate bone density; such measurements have shown an inverse association with fracture risk in other studies.  The key factors improving the bone measures were physical activity (an increase) and smoking (a decrease).  For alcohol intake, subjects reporting consumption on 1 or 2 days per week had better indices of bone density than those abstaining or those drinking daily.  No data are presented on the amount of alcohol consumed.
Overall, this study supports previous research suggesting that moderate drinking favourably affects bone density.  The data are inadequate to judge how the inverse U-shaped association with alcohol according to frequency of drinking may relate to the actual amount of alcohol consumed, as only the frequency of drinking was recorded.

Source: Pye SR, Devakumar V, Boonen S . . . O’Neill TW, EMAS Study Group.Influence of lifestyle factors on quantitative heel ultrasound measurements in middle-aged and elderly men.  Calcif Tissue Int 2010;online. DOI 10.1007/s00223-009-9330-y

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