Depression may speed bone loss in older women
Depressed older women appear to lose bone at a faster rate than their non-depressed counterparts, new research shows.
In the study, researchers determined depressive symptoms and took two hip bone mineral density (BMD) measurements an average of 4.4 years apart in 4,177 women aged 69 and older participating in the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures.
“We found that depressive symptoms were associated with greater rates of bone loss in a group of older women (average age about 75 years old); the more depressive symptoms women had, the greater their rates of bone loss,” Dr. Susan J. Diem from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, told Reuters Health.
In age-adjusted models, average BMD at the hip fell 0.96 percent per year in 200 depressed women compared with 0.69 percent per year in 3,977 non-depressed women. This difference is significant.
“This association persisted after controlling for multiple potential confounders and after excluding users of antidepressant medications,” Diem and multicenter U.S. team report in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Prior studies have shown an increased risk of fractures in association with depression. “The mechanism of this association is unclear, but the finding of greater rates of bone loss in depressed subjects suggests that this may be a factor in the observed association with fractures,” the authors say.
Diem thinks doctors “should consider the presence of depression when deciding when to recommend bone mineral density testing for their older patients.”
Further research is needed to confirm these observations and “to clarify the effect of specific treatments for depression on the rate of bone loss in depressed people,” the researchers conclude.
SOURCE: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, June 2007.
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