The health of muscles and bones are interlinked in certain areas of the body, and there are distinct differences between women and men, a new study says.
The findings could be used to improve identification of people at increased risk for falls and fractures as they age, according to the Mayo Clinic researchers.
They analysed data from 272 women and 317 men, ages 20 to 97, taking part in a Mayo Clinic bone health study and found that muscle mass is associated with bone strength at particular locations in the body.
Muscle mass connected to load-bearing areas
In women, muscle mass is strongly connected to the health of bones in load-bearing areas such as the hip, lower spine and shinbone. Muscle mass is also associated with bone health in women's forearms, a non-load-bearing site that's at increased risk of fracture following menopause.
The researchers also found that higher circulating levels of a protein called IGFBP-2 is associated with lower overall muscle mass in both women and men.
The study was published online in the Journal of Bone & Mineral Research.
Weakened muscles can lead to death
"Our study adds to the growing body of evidence supporting the highly integrated nature of skeletal muscle and bone, and it also provides new insights into potential biomarkers that reflect the health of the musculoskeletal system," lead author Nathan LeBrasseur, of the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation and the Centre on Aging, said in a Mayo Clinic news release.
As people age, weakened muscles can lead to falls and fractures that can result in a loss of independence and even death.
"As we develop a better understanding of the complex relationship between muscle and bone, we may find new strategies for early identification and treatment of muscle loss and bone-density loss," LeBrasseur said.
(HealthDay News, June 2012)
Bone health in the spotlight