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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Harris Susan B
item Wood Maria J
item Dawson-hughes Be

Submitted to: Bone
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/7/1994
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: It is accepted that black women have higher spine and hip bone mineral density and fewer osteoporotic fractures than white women, but the reason for this is not understood. This study was conducted to compare bone density at other skeletal sites, the forearm and whole body, in premenopausal women and assess a broad range of lifestyle factors as possible contributors to racial differences in bone density. In the 65 black and 73 white premenopausal women studied, forearm bone density was 9.3% higher and whole body density was 5.9% higher in the blacks. The black women were heavier, had earlier onset of menstrual periods, had more pregnancies and births, and drank less alcohol, but adjustment for these differences had little effect on the bone density differences. In conclusion, the mechanisms for higher bone density in black women remain unknown.

Technical Abstract: This study was conducted to report and compare bone mineral density (BMD) of the total body and distal forearm, as measured by x-ray absorptiometry, in 65 black and 73 white premenopausal women between the ages of 20 and 40. The black women had higher current and recalled body weights, a higher percent body fat, more pregnancies and births, were younger at menarche, and reported lower alcohol intakes than the white women studied. A smaller percent of the black women had experienced amenorrhea and a higher percent had lived at southern latitudes. Smoking history and lifetime use of oral contraceptives were similar in the two groups. Total body BMD, adjusted for body mass index (BMI), was 5.9% higher in the black than in the white women (mean +/-sd: 1.230 +/- 0.076 g/cm**2H compared with 1.161+/-0.075; difference [CI95]: 0.068 [0.042,0.095]). Forearm BMD, adjusted for BMI, was 9.3% higher in the black women (mean+/-sd: 0.505+/-0.046 compared with 0.462+/-0.045; difference [CI95]: 0.043 [0.027,0.059]). Adjustment for the other medical and lifestyle differences noted above had little effect on estimated BMD differences between the two groups.

Last Modified: 05/24/2017
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