In a previous post on the relationship between structural “deviations” and pain symptoms we discussed how specific issues such as “disk protrusions” and “torn rotator cuffs” are not necessarily related to pain symptoms – regardless of what well-meaning health practitioners may tell us.
Now, let’s talk about a related idea we first touched upon in our podcast with Ruthy Alon. Namely, is low bone mineral content the cause of bone fractures?
Bone Density and Bone Fractures
It is well established that most women lose bone density as they get older (Citation: Hip and calcaneal bone loss increase with advancing age.) But what is puzzling is the fact that bone fractures – presumably related to bone density and bone mineral content – varies among populations. For example, African American women have much lower rates of bone fractures than do Caucasian women.
Why? Is it because African American women have stronger bones? Do they have slower mineral loss? For the U.S. population, I have not seen an answer. However, I was intrigued by this comment by Ruthy Alon on a Facebook post (African Women Walking):
“Comparative research shows that African women, who carry massive loads on their heads
with effortless grace, are one hundred times less liable to fractures than women in the West,
despite the fact that their bone density is lower than that of Western women.”
Could this be true? Do African women, with dramatically fewer bone fractures than Caucasian women have actually have lower bone density? If so, what accounts for the differences in fracture rates?
Bone Density Research
According to a study in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research Ruthy is correct. The study compared Caucasian women and African women on a variety of factors including bone density, age, and weight. Surprisingly, not only did the African women maintain bone density at a similar rate to Caucasian women, but they actually had LESS overall bone mineral content than did the Caucasian women. Got that? Lower bone density and fewer fractures.
According to the researchers,”These results challenge the concept of BMC [Bone Mineral Content] as a primary determinant of fracture risk.”
If bone density is not the “cause” of fractures, then what is? How do African women avoid fractures? What can Caucasian women learn from them? Would anyone like to share a theory? If you are a Feldenkrais Practitioner or Bones For Life Practitioner, you likely have an opinion on this. Yes?
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