Bone Health : Belly Fat Bad for Bones

Lee Bowman Scripps

Medical science is constantly bringing new evidence that often challenges what we think we know about risk for a disease or how a disease progresses.

Sometimes, the findings are revolutionary, while other research simply expands thinking on possible new paths to a cure.

Here are a few examples of unconventional wisdom in some recent work dealing with bone loss, tonsils and stress hormones.

It's long been thought that women are at increased risk for bone loss as they age, while men, particularly obese men, were generally safe from osteoporosis.

But a new study led by a Boston radiologist suggests that men with certain types of body fat -- deep belly fat -- are also at risk for bone loss and decreased bone strength.

Earlier research on bone fractures in men had indicated that obesity was a risk factor, but Dr. Miriam Bredella and her colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School focused on belly fat and its impact on bone strength.

Their scans of 35 obese men with a mean age of 34 included a stress analysis of a bone in the forearm to determine the force required for it to break.

According to results presented to the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago recently, the men with more fat behind muscle tissue in the abdomen and with more total abdominal fat had bones more prone to fail and with greater stiffness than men with less deep belly fat. Age and total body mass index did not make any difference to bone strength.

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