The contribution of bone loss to postmenopausal osteoporosis
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We have addressed the relative importance of peak bone mass and subsequent rate of loss in determining postmenopausal women's bone mass in old age, by examining longitudinal measurements of radial mid-shaft bone mass on various samples of healthy white postmenopausal women. Using both the variance estimate of age-specific rates of bone loss and the population variance in bone mass, we determined that rates of loss could contribute importantly to future bone mass. However, since we found a small negative correlation between initial bone mass and rate of loss, it was necessary to estimate the effect of bone loss as the complement of the contribution of initial bone mass. We found that the influence of bone loss (relative to initial bone mass) increases as the women age, such that by about age 70, the contribution of initial bone mass and rate of loss approached equality. However, estimated rates of bone loss were not very stable over time, so it was difficult to identify long-term ‘fast-losers’. We conclude that the rate of postmenopausal bone loss is an important contributor to osteoporosis at old age, but it is difficult to identify long-term fast-losers, thereby reducing the clinical value of assessments of rates of change in bone mass early in the postmenopause.
KeywordsBone loss Bone mass measurements Osteoporosis Peak bone mass Postmenopause Rate of bone loss
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