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7 Gene Regions Tied to Osteoporosis

Many Other Osteoporosis Gene Clues Await Discovery, Researchers Predict
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 29, 2008 -- Your genes may affect your odds of developing osteoporosis, and now scientists have seven new leads on which genes affect osteoporosis risk.

It's too early for a gene test to gauge osteoporosis risk, but researchers are working toward that goal.

The new clues about the genetics of osteoporosis come from two new studies, which together included more than 18,500 British, European, and Australian adults of European descent.

Seven gene variants stood out.

One study, published in The Lancet's advance online edition, notes two variants linked to increased risk of osteoporosis and osteoporosis-related bone fractures.

The other study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine's advance online edition, identifies five other genetic variants associated with bone mineral density. In osteoporosis, bone mineral density is dangerously low, making bones vulnerable to fracture. 

Those discoveries may be just the tip of the iceberg.

In both studies, the gene variants only accounted for a small portion of the variation among participants. Other genes probably also affect osteoporosis risk and bone mineral density, note the researchers; editorialists who reviewed their work agree.

Further research is also needed to hunt for osteoporosis gene patterns in people of other ethnic backgrounds.

When it comes to osteoporosis, genes are just one part of the picture. Other factors -- including diet, weight-bearing exercise, smoking, and age -- also count.

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