Researchers believe that the more bone mass a young woman accumulates in her early years the better for preventing osteoporosis later in life. In this study from the University of Toronoto, scientists interviewed college-age women about their lifestyle and diet and then measured the bone density of each volunteer’s lower spine, hip and heel.
The goal was to see if behaviors and health factors in young women could be linked to early signs of bone loss. Three key factors turned out to predict low bone density in young women:
•low body weight
•periods starting at age 15 or later
•physical inactivity as an adolescent.
Volunteers with all three factors had a 92% chance of showing some degree of bone loss even at this early age. Researchers hope to use this information to identify young women at risk for osteoporosis sooner, rather than later, in order to prevent or delay the onset of the disease.
Hawker, GA et al, 2002. “A clinical prediction rule to identify premenopausal women with low bone mass.” Osteoporosis Int
2002. Report on young college women already showing bone loss: “Osteoporosis May Threaten Young Women, “ Science Daily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/07/020731081716.htm
2003. “College Women at Risk for Osteoporosis: Female athletes are especially susceptible to low bone density.”
2003. “College Women at Risk for Osteoporosis,” College Women website with information about osteoporosis.