Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Indian women have lower bone mineral density values

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  Indian women are found to have lower bone mineral density (BMD) than women in the West, making them susceptible to osteoporosis 10 years earlier.

The Indian Council of Medical Research carried out studies on the bone mineral density of groups of women in four major cities including Hyderabad. The results showed that the average BMD in Indian women was lower than that of women in the West. Bone mineral density is an important value that determines the bone health or otherwise of an individual. The lower the BMD values, the higher the risk of bone fractures caused due to a health problem called osteoporosis.

The BMD values of Indian women fall shot of the reference database for women aged between 20 and 29 years, fixed by the World Health Organisation and the International Osteoporosis Foundation. Thanks to lower BMD Indian women are prone to osteoporosis much earlier than their counterparts in the West. The average bone mineral density in Indian women was found to be 0.901 at the hip, 0.538 at the forearm and 0.954 at the spine regions. These values are lower than the reference standards fixed for western women.

"Osteoporotic fractures usually occur 10-20 years earlier in Indian women as compared with western Caucasian counterparts. The Indian women have lower BMD than American, placing them at greater osteoporotic risk. The shorter hip axis of Indian versus American might also attenuate hip fracture risk among Indians," observes senior researcher Dr S Sharma.

The lower BMD is attributed to lower intake of calcium and vitamin D by Indians, both men and women. Though the WHO recommends that one should take between 1,000 and 1300 mg of calcium everyday, dietary intake of calcium by Indians on an average hardly exceed even half of it. Indians on an average take about 450 mg of calcium through their diet. This impacts the overall bone health.

According to senior gynaecologist Dr R Patni, even conservative estimates suggest that 20 per cent of women and 10 to 15 per cent of men above 50 years in India are osteoporotic. "As many as 2.5 crore people in the country are affected by osteoporosis. If the risk of fractures due to lower bone density is taken into account, then about five crore Indians are at greater risk of bone-related problems," she added.

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