High Social Stress Linked to Greater Bone Loss After Menopause

Each point higher in social strain tied to greater loss in femoral neck, total hip, lumbar spine BMD

THURSDAY, July 11, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- High social stress is associated with greater bone loss during six years of follow-up among postmenopausal women, according to a study published online July 9 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Shawna L. Follis, from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and colleagues used data from 11,020 postmenopausal women participating in the Women's Health Initiative to examine the correlation between self-reported psychosocial stress and change in bone mineral density (BMD) measured at the femoral neck, lumbar spine, and total hip. The correlations between social measures of psychosocial stress and percentage change in BMD were assessed for six years.

The researchers found that over six years, high social stress correlated with reduced BMD. Each point higher in social strain correlated with 0.082, 0.108, and 0.069 percent greater loss in femoral neck BMD, total hip BMD, and lumbar spine BMD, respectively, after adjustment for confounders. Greater decreases in femoral neck BMD were seen in association with low social functioning and low social support; low social functioning also correlated with greater reductions in total hip BMD.

"This research helps to elucidate the complex role of psychosocial stress in BMD among postmenopausal women towards the identification of specific patient groups that would benefit more from targeted behavioral prevention strategies," the authors write. "Taken together with prior evidence, the results support community-building social stress interventions in postmenopausal women to potentially limit bone loss."

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