Osteoporosis

Updated 06 February 2015

A happy life may give older women stronger bones

According to a Finnish study, being satisfied with life may be linked to better bone health in older women.

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Older women who are satisfied with their lives may have better bone health, a new Finnish study suggests.

Up to half of all women older than 50 will develop the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, which can lead to serious bone fractures, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Major risk factors for osteoporosis include menopause, slight frame, smoking, low calcium intake, and certain medications and medical conditions, the study authors explained.

In addition, long-term stress can affect metabolism and, ultimately, osteoporosis risk, according to researcher Paivi Rauma, of the University of Eastern Finland, and colleagues. They published their study findings recently in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

Health behaviours affect bone health

The health behaviours of a person with depression might also raise the risk for poor bone health, perhaps leading them to smoke or refrain from exercise, the researchers suggested in a journal news release.

The study included more than 1,100 Finnish women aged 60 to 70. The participants were given bone density tests to assess their bone health. The bone density of the women fell by an average of 4 percent over a period of 10 years, the investigators found.

However, bone density among those who said they were satisfied with their lives was as much as 52 percent higher than it was among those who said they were dissatisfied, the study authors noted.

Read: Osteoporosis a major threat to independence

Changes in life satisfaction during the 10 years of follow-up also appeared to be linked to bone density. Bone density weakened by 85 percent among those who said their life satisfaction deteriorated during that time, compared with women who said their life satisfaction improved, according to the report.

This suggests that high levels of life satisfaction can help protect against osteoporosis, the researchers said.

No proof, only association

However, the study doesn't prove that life dissatisfaction actually led to bone loss. The association seen in the study does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Still, the authors said the findings suggest that good life satisfaction and good spirits in elderly people may be as important as healthy lifestyle habits – such as exercise and not smoking – in maintaining good bone health.

Read more:

Belly fat puts women at risk for osteoporosis
Studies probe why osteoporosis drugs may prevent cancer
Men less likely to get screened for osteoporosis

Image: Nice old woman sitting in the autumn park from Shutterstock

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Healthy Bones

Tereza is the CEO of the National Osteoporosis Foundation and worked as a Nursing Sister in the field of Osteoporosis for 18 years prior to her appointment with the Foundation. She used to be the Educational Officer for the Foundation and co-wrote the patient brochure on Osteoporosis. Read more

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