Advertisement

Archives of Osteoporosis

, 9:202 | Cite as

Age-related variation in limb bone diaphyseal structure among Inuit foragers from Point Hope, northern Alaska

  • I. J. WallaceEmail author
  • A. Nesbitt
  • C. Mongle
  • E. S. Gould
  • F. E. Grine
Original Article

Abstract

Summary

Age-related deterioration of limb bone diaphyseal structure is documented among precontact Inuit foragers from northern Alaska. These findings challenge the concept that bone loss and fracture susceptibility among modern Inuit stem from their transition away from a physically demanding traditional lifestyle toward a more sedentary Western lifestyle.

Introduction

Skeletal fragility is rare among foragers and other traditional-living societies, likely due to their high physical activity levels. Among modern Inuit, however, severe bone loss and fractures are apparently common. This is possibly because of recent Western influences and increasing sedentism. To determine whether compromised bone structure and strength among the Inuit are indeed aberrant for a traditional-living group, data were collected on age-related variation in limb bone diaphyseal structure from a group predating Western influences.

Methods

Skeletons of 184 adults were analyzed from the Point Hope archaeological site. Mid-diaphyseal structure was measured in the humerus, radius, ulna, femur, and tibia using CT. Structural differences were assessed between young, middle-aged, and old individuals.

Results

In all bones examined, both females and males exhibited significant age-related reductions in bone quantity. With few exceptions, total bone (periosteal) area did not significantly increase between young and old age in either sex, nor did geometric components of bending rigidity (second moments of area).

Conclusions

While the physically demanding lifestyles of certain traditional-living groups may protect against bone loss and fracture susceptibility, this is not the case among the Inuit. It remains possible, however, that Western characteristics of the modern Inuit lifestyle exacerbate age-related skeletal deterioration.

Keywords

Eskimo Hunter-gatherer Osteopenia Osteoporosis Physical activity Westernization 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank D.H. Thomas, I. Tattersall, and G. Garcia at the American Museum of Natural History for facilitating analysis of the Point Hope skeletons; M. Tweedie for assistance with transporting skeletons for analysis; undergraduate anthropology students for help with data collection; B. Maley for providing morphological data from the skulls for sex assignment; and N. Blegen, L. Cowgill, O. Pearson, and M. Gomberg for critical references. We are grateful to B. Schipf, M. Axoso, and C. Mazzerese for unstinting assistance with CT scanning. Funding was provided by Stony Brook University.

Conflict of interest

None.

References

  1. 1.
    Nesse RM, Williams GC (1994) Why we get sick: the new science of Darwinian medicine. Times Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Lieberman DE (2013) The story of the human body: evolution, health, and disease. Pantheon, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Tan VP, Macdonald HM, Kim S et al (2014) Influence of physical activity on bone strength in children and adolescents: a systematic review and narrative synthesis. J Bone Miner Res 29:2161–2181PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Warden SJ, Mantila Roosa SM, Kersh ME et al (2014) Physical activity when young provides lifelong benefits to cortical bone size and strength in men. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111:5337–5342PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ruff CB (2006) Gracilization of the modern human skeleton. Am Sci 94:508–514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Karasik D (2008) Osteoporosis: an evolutionary perspective. Hum Genet 124:349–356PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Nowlan NC, Jepsen KJ, Morgan EF (2011) Smaller, weaker, and less stiff bones evolve from changes in subsistence strategy. Osteoporos Int 22:1967–1980PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Aspray TJ, Prentice A, Cole TJ et al (1996) Low bone mineral content is common but osteoporotic fractures are rare in elderly rural Gambian women. J Bone Miner Res 11:1019–1025PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Agarwal SC (2008) Light and broken bones: examining and interpreting bone loss and osteoporosis in past populations. In: Katzenberg MA, Saunders SR (eds) Biological anthropology of the human skeleton, 2nd edn. Wiley, Hoboken, pp 387–410CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Perzigian AJ (1973) Osteoporotic bone loss in two prehistoric Indian populations. Am J Phys Anthropol 39:87–95PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Madimenos FC, Snodgrass JJ, Blackwell AD et al (2011) Normative calcaneal quantitative ultrasound data for the indigenous Shuar and non-Shuar Colonos of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Arch Osteoporos 6:39–49PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ruff CB, Hayes WC (1982) Subperiosteal expansion and cortical remodeling of the human femur and tibia with aging. Science 217:945–948PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ruff CB, Hayes WC (1988) Sex differences in age-related remodeling of the femur and tibia. J Orthop Res 6:886–896PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Pratt WB, Holloway JM (2001) Incidence of hip fracture in Alaska Inuit people: 1979–89 and 1996–99. Alaska Med 43:2–5PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    El Hayek J, Pronovost A, Morin S et al (2012) Forearm bone mineral density varies as a function of adiposity in Inuit women 40–90 years of age during the vitamin D-synthesizing period. Calcif Tissue Int 90:384–395PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Jakobsen A, Laurberg P, Vestergaard P et al (2013) Clinical risk factors for osteoporosis are common among elderly people in Nuuk, Greenland. Int J Circumpolar Health 72:19596PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Mazess RB, Mather W (1974) Bone mineral content of North Alaskan Eskimos. Am J Clin Nutr 27:916–925PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Mazess RB, Mather W (1975) Bone mineral content in Canadian Eskimos. Hum Biol 47:45–63Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Sharma S (2010) Assessing diet and lifestyle in the Canadian Arctic Inuit and Inuvialuit to inform a nutrition and physical activity intervention programme. J Hum Nutr Diet 23:5–17PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Kolahdooz F, Barr A, Roache C et al (2013) Dietary adequacy of vitamin D and calcium among Inuit and Inuvialuit women of child-bearing age in Arctic Canada: a growing concern. PLoS ONE 8:e78987PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Larsen H, Rainey FG (1948) Ipiutak and the Arctic whale hunting culture. Anthropol Pap Am Mus 42:1–276Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Rainey FG (1947) The whale hunters of Tigara. Anthropol Pap Am Mus 41:230–283Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Burch ES (1981) The traditional Eskimo hunters of Point Hope, Alaska: 1800–1875. North Slope Borough, Point Hope, AKGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Lammert O (1972) Maximal aerobic power and energy expenditure of Eskimo hunters in Greenland. J Appl Physiol 33:184–188PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Godin G, Shephard RJ (1973) Activity patterns of the Canadian Eskimo. In: Edholm OG, Gunderson EKE (eds) Human polar biology. Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, pp 193–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    White TD, Black MT, Folkens PA (2011) Human osteology, 3rd edn. Elsevier Academic Press, BurlingtonGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Auerbach BM, Ruff CB (2010) Stature estimation formulae for indigenous North American populations. Am J Phys Anthropol 141:190–207PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Ruff CB, Holt BM, Niskanen M et al (2012) Stature and body mass estimation from skeletal remains in the European Holocene. Am J Phys Anthropol 148:601–617PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Ruff C, Niskanen M, Junno J-A et al (2005) Body mass prediction from stature and bi-iliac breadth in two high latitude populations, with application to earlier higher latitude humans. J Hum Evol 48:381–392PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Doube M, Kłosowski MM, Arganda-Carreras I et al (2010) BoneJ: free and extensible bone image analysis in ImageJ. Bone 47:1076–1079PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Ruff CB, Trinkaus E, Walker A et al (1993) Postcranial robusticity in Homo. I: temporal trends and mechanical interpretation. Am J Phys Anthropol 91:21–53PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Laughlin SB (1985) Skeletal aging patterns of Tigara and Ipiutak Eskimo of Point Hope, Alaska. (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Connecticut, StorrsGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Burr D, Martin R (1983) The effects of composition, structure and age on torsional properties of the human radius. J Biomech 16:603–608PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Riggs BL, Melton LJ, Robb RA et al (2004) Population-based study of age and sex differences in bone volumetric density, size, geometry, and structure at different skeletal sites. J Bone Miner Res 19:1945–1954PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Russo CR, Lauretani F, Seeman E et al (2006) Structural adaptations in aging men and women. Bone 38:112–118PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Yuen KW, Kwok TC, Qin L et al (2010) Characteristics of age-related changes in bone compared between male and female reference Chinese populations in Hong Kong: a pQCT study. J Bone Miner Metab 28:672–681PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Allen MD, McMillan SJ, Klein C et al (2012) Differential age-related changes in bone geometry between the humerus and the femur in healthy men. Aging Dis 3:156–163PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Webb AR (2006) Who, what, where and when-influences on cutaneous vitamin D synthesis. Prog Biophys Mol Biol 92:17–25PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Odén A, Kanis JA, McCloskey EV, Johansson H (2014) The effect of latitude on the risk of seasonal variation in hip fracture in Sweden. J Bone Miner Res 29:2217–2223PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Kuhnlein HV, Soueida R, Receveur O (1996) Dietary nutrient profiles of Canadian Baffin Island Inuit differ by food source, season, and age. J Am Diet Assoc 96:155–162PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Specker B, Binkley T, Fahrenwald N (2004) Rural versus nonrural differences in BMC, volumetric BMD, and bone size: a population-based cross-sectional study. Bone 35:1389–1398PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Pongchaiyakul C, Nguyen TV, Kosulwat V et al (2005) Effect of urbanization on bone mineral density: a Thai epidemiological study. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 6:5PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Søgaard AJ, Gustad TK, Bjertness E et al (2007) Urban–rural differences in distal forearm fractures: Cohort Norway. Osteoporos Int 18:1063–1072PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Kruger MC, Kruger IM, Wentzel-Viljoen E et al (2011) Urbanization of black South African women may increase risk of low bone mass due to low vitamin D status, low calcium intake, and high bone turnover. Nutr Res 31:748–758PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Martrille L, Ubelaker DH, Cattaneo C et al (2007) Comparison of four skeletal methods for the estimation of age at death on white and black adults. J Forensic Sci 52:302–307PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. J. Wallace
    • 1
    Email author
  • A. Nesbitt
    • 1
  • C. Mongle
    • 1
  • E. S. Gould
    • 1
    • 2
  • F. E. Grine
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyStony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA
  2. 2.Department of Radiology, School of MedicineStony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA
  3. 3.Department of Anatomical Sciences, School of MedicineStony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA

Personalised recommendations