By Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Jan. 16, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Older women who are satisfied with their lives may have better bone health, a new Finnish study suggests.
Up to half of all women older than 50 will develop the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, which can lead to serious bone fractures, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Major risk factors for osteoporosis include menopause, slight frame, smoking, low calcium intake, and certain medications and medical conditions, the study authors explained.
In addition, long-term stress can affect metabolism and, ultimately, osteoporosis risk, according to researcher Paivi Rauma, of the University of Eastern Finland, and colleagues. They published their study findings recently in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.
The health behaviors of a person with depression might also raise the risk for poor bone health, perhaps leading them to smoke or refrain from exercise, the researchers suggested in a journal news release.
The study included more than 1,100 Finnish women aged 60 to 70. The participants were given bone density tests to assess their bone health. The bone density of the women fell by an average of 4 percent over a period of 10 years, the investigators found.
However, bone density among those who said they were satisfied with their lives was as much as 52 percent higher than it was among those who said they were dissatisfied, the study authors noted.
Changes in life satisfaction during the 10 years of follow-up also appeared to be linked to bone density. Bone density weakened by 85 percent among those who said their life satisfaction deteriorated during that time, compared with women who said their life satisfaction improved, according to the report.
This suggests that high levels of life satisfaction can help protect against osteoporosis, the researchers said.
However, the study doesn't prove that life dissatisfaction actually led to bone loss. The association seen in the study does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
Still, the authors said the findings suggest that good life satisfaction and good spirits in elderly people may be as important as healthy lifestyle habits -- such as exercise and not smoking -- in maintaining good bone health.