Exploring the Link Between Poverty and Osteoporosis

Woman with outstretched empty handsA recent study in Clinical Endocrinology explored the associations between socioeconomic status and a person’s risk for osteoporosis, related fractures, and other health conditions.

The study, “Osteoporosis and metabolic syndrome according to socio-economic status; contribution of PTH, Vitamin D and body weight: The Canarian Osteoporosis Poverty Study (COPS),” was published online ahead of print in September 2012.

The study was led by researchers at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain. The study authors argue that while poverty has been examined in connection with a host of health outcomes, the links between socioeconomic status and risk of bone fractures, bone density, and metabolic syndrome deserve further attention. They were also interested in exploring the effects of patients’ parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels and vitamin D deficiencies on these associations.

Personal interviews were conducted with 1,250 postmenopausal women. Socioeconomic status was determined using Spanish Institute of Statistics criteria. Women were classified as being part of a “low poverty” or “medium/high poverty” group.

Besides the interviews, women were also given a physical examination, a radiograph of the thoracic and lumbar spines, and a health questionnaire. The participants’ bone mineral density (BMD) was measured, and their fasting blood was used to measure outcomes that included vitamin D levels and PTH.

The study results demonstrated a link between poverty and heightened PTH, lower BMD at the lumbar spine, higher body weight and body mass index (BMI), vitamin D insufficiency, and a higher prevalence of fractures. Additionally, high PTH and vitamin D insufficiency were linked to a heightened risk of osteoporotic fractures. Though there was an association between a woman’s lower socioeconomic status and her risk of metabolic syndrome, the researchers say that this is likely due to the higher BMI associated with poverty.

The study authors state that their findings confirm an association between poverty and a number of poor health outcomes, including osteoporosis, osteoporotic fracture risk, metabolic syndrome, vitamin D insufficiency, and heightened PTH levels.

Updated on: 08/25/16
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