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Black Women's Fracture Risk Lower Than Whites'

Among Older Women, Blacks Have Fewer Fractures Than Whites, Researchers Say

Fracture Study continued...

In Cauley's study, the black women were older and heavier than the white women. They were also less likely than whites to take calcium supplements, walk for exercise, or consume alcohol, say the researchers.

After taking into account a woman's age and low bone mineral density and other factors associated with increased fracture risk, black women were 48% less likely than white women to have bone fractures, says the study.

Groups With Higher Bone Risks

Looking just at the black women in the study, those who had a bone fracture tended to have a couple of things in common:

  • Slightly older age
  • Lower height, weight, and body mass index (BMI)Lower height, weight, and body mass index (BMI)
  • Less likely to report walking as a form of exercise
  • More likely to report osteoarthritis
  • More likely to report falling two or more times in the past year
  • More likely to say they needed to use their arms to stand up from a chair

Cauley notes that the small number of black women in the study could have affected the estimates. Because all of the participants were volunteers and could walk without assistance, they might be healthier than other women their age, she and her colleagues add.

Some studies have suggested that black women have slower rates of bone loss, possibly due to slower bone metabolism, say Cauley and colleagues, adding that other studies haven't come to that conclusion.

Race was reported by participants. Future studies might consider the race and ethnicity of participants' grandparents, as well as genetic and cultural factors, say Cauley and colleagues.

Editorial writer Louise Acheson, MD, MS, calls race a "nonbiological category." She says that the words "white" and "black" may be misleading because they can group together people with different ancestries, histories, and environmental exposures.

For instance, she says women from Somalia living in the U.S. have lower bone mineral density than U.S. black women, and white women in France have lower peak bone mass than U.S. white women.

"Scientists and clinicians will do best by avoiding race proxies for other biological, social, and cultural constructs," writes Acheson, who works in the family medicine research division of Case Western Reserve University.

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