Journal of Bone and Mineral Metabolism

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 185–190 | Cite as

A pilot investigation of load-carrying on the head and bone mineral density in premenopausal, black African women

  • Ray Lloyd
  • Karen Hind
  • Lisa K. Micklesfield
  • Sean Carroll
  • John G. Truscott
  • Bridget Parr
  • Simoene Davies
  • Carlton Cooke
Original Article


Although the influence of weight-bearing activity on bone mass has been widely investigated in white women, few studies have been conducted in black, African populations. We investigated bone mineral density (BMD) in black South African women, with and without a history of load-carrying on the head. We also investigated whether load carrying may offer protection against low BMD in users of injectable progestin contraception (IPC). Participants were 32 black, South African women (22.4 ± 3.2 years). Load carrying history was determined by questionnaire and interview; participants were grouped as load carriers (LC; n = 18) or non-load carriers (NLC; n = 14). Ten women were using IPC and 6 were load-carriers. Total body (TB), lumbar spine (LS) and total hip (H) BMD were measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry. There were no differences in BMD between LC and NLC, and after controlling for age and BMI using two-tailed partial correlations. IPC users had lower BMD at all sites compared to non-IPC users (p < 0.05) and there were no associations between load carrying and BMD in this group. When IPC users were excluded from analysis, LC had higher LS BMD than NLC (p < 0.005). Correlations were found between the weight of load carried and LS BMD (r = 0.743, p < 0.005), and between years of load carrying and LS and TB BMD (r = 0.563, r = 0.538, respectively; both p < 0.05). Load carrying on the head may offer osteogenic benefits to the spine but these benefits did not appear in women using IPC.


Bone density Spine Weight-bearing activity Contraception Premenopausal women 



We thank the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland and the University of Abertay Dundee who partially funded this project as well as Cape Peninsula University of Technology and the University of Cape Town South Africa for facilitating this research. We also thank the volunteers for their cooperation and participation in the study.


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Society for Bone and Mineral Research and Springer 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ray Lloyd
    • 1
  • Karen Hind
    • 2
  • Lisa K. Micklesfield
    • 3
  • Sean Carroll
    • 2
  • John G. Truscott
    • 4
  • Bridget Parr
    • 5
  • Simoene Davies
    • 5
  • Carlton Cooke
    • 2
  1. 1.University of AbertayDundeeUK
  2. 2.Carnegie Research InstituteLeeds Metropolitan UniversityLeedsUK
  3. 3.University of Cape TownNewlandsSouth Africa
  4. 4.Division of Medical Physics, Worsley BuildingUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK
  5. 5.Cape Peninsula University of TechnologyCape TownSouth Africa

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