July 19, 2019
2 min read

1 in 4 early-middle-aged adults has osteopenia

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Martha Bass
Martha Bass

More than 25% of early-middle-aged adults had osteopenia in their neck, according to findings recently published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

By 2025, fractures due to osteoporosis will cost $25.3 billion annually according to Martha A. Bass, PhD, of the department of health, exercise science and recreation management at the University of Mississippi School of Applied Sciences, and colleagues, and “by 2050, the worldwide incidence of osteoporotic fractures is projected to have increased by 310% in men and by 240% in women.”

Researchers reviewed 173 questionnaires from men and women aged 35 to 50 years that determined calcium intake, weekly exercise and other risk factors associated with osteoporosis and osteopenia. Participants who were postmenopausal, pregnant, weighed 300 pounds or more, or acknowledged taking antidepressants, glucocorticoids or proton pump inhibitors were not included. All participants underwent dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry scans to ascertain their bone mass density.

Bass and colleagues found that 28% of the men had osteopenia at the femoral neck and there was a significant and negative correlation between exercise and that area’s bone mass density (P= .01).

In addition, 26% of women had osteopenia at the femoral neck and correlation analyses showed significant positive correlations between exercise and bone mass density of the trochanter (P= .003), intertrochanteric crest, total femur and lumbar spine (P for last three = .01).

Osteoporosis consult 2019.  
More than 25% of early-middle-aged adults had osteopenia in their neck, according to findings recently published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.


In an interview with Healio Primary Care, Bass also explained risk factors for osteopenia and osteoporosis, especially those that trend more towards men.

Risk factors for men are similar to those of women — sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition, low calcium, vitamin D, genetics. A hormonal imbalance may also contribute to low bone mineral density in males,” she said.

Researchers noted that though screening is a critical component of detecting osteopenia and osteoporosis, patients may not be aware of, or they have concerns about, an “effective” tool that exists for this purpose.

“The general population may not be adequately informed about the [dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry] scan or have little interest in getting scanned owing to fears about radiation exposure and cost. Educational interventions must be implemented to allay such misperceptions and barriers. ... It is important that early detection of the precursors for osteoporosis become part of the annual physical for people in this age range, as well as in older patients,” they wrote.

Bass added that primary care physicians must ensure men do not see osteopenia and osteoporosis as only women’s conditions.

“Men need to understand that, while their risk for osteopenia may be lower than a woman’s, they still are at risk. The young men that we classified as osteopenic or osteoporotic were all surprised to hear these results,” she said. – by Janel Miller

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.