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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Fat mass is an important determinant of whole body bone density in premenopausal women but not in men.

We recently reported that total body fat mass is the principal determinant of bone density in normal postmenopausal women. We have now reexamined the relationships among these variables and lean mass in 68 healthy premenopausal women and 51 men. Areal bone density ( BMD), fat mass, and lean mass were measured in total body scans by dual-energy, x-ray absorptiometry. In women, BMD was correlated with weight (r = 0.69), fat mass (r = 0.60), and lean mass (r = 0.55). In men, the respective correlations were 0.56, 0.26 (NS), and 0.51. Multiple regression analysis confirmed a codependence of female BMD on fat and lean masses, whereas male BMD was related only to lean mass. Because BMD is an areal not volumetric density, it is dependent on body size. The analysis was therefore repeated using BMD/height as an index of "true" density. Correlations with fat mass were little changed but those with lean mass were reduced (women) or eliminated (men). By multiple regression, female BMD/height was related to fat mass alone, and in men there was a borderline effect of fat (P = 0.05) but none of lean mass. As a second method to exclude a scale artifact, fat mass was expressed as percent body weight. It was related to BMD (r = 0.48) only in women. It is concluded that bone density is closely related to fat mass in premenopausal women, but less so in men. In both sexes, apparent relationships between BMD and lean mass are artifacts attributable to the use of areal density (which is dependent on body size) as a surrogate for volumetric density. The mechanism of this fat-bone density relationship is an important question to be addressed in bone biology.[1]


  1. Fat mass is an important determinant of whole body bone density in premenopausal women but not in men. Reid, I.R., Plank, L.D., Evans, M.C. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. (1992) [Pubmed]
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