Arm Fat Could Be Linked To Disabling Spinal Fractures, Study Shows

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A recent study suggests that assessing total arm fat in individuals over 50 may predict osteoporosis and identify those at risk for spinal fractures, potentially offering a cost-effective means of preventing serious fall-related injuries.

Body fat may have an impact on spine fractures

Osteoporosis, a condition causing brittle bones and heightened risk of fractures, is prevalent among older adults. Despite its commonality, it is frequently overlooked and untreated globally. Symptoms often go unnoticed until a fracture occurs, particularly in the spine.

Imaging methods like dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry gauge bone mineral density, while trabecular bone score assesses bone quality and forecasts fractures beyond bone mineral density alone. Yet, the impact of body fat on bone health has remained uncertain until recent findings.

Greek researchers conducted a study involving 115 participants (14 men and 101 women) with an average age of 62, who had no history of osteoporosis. They discovered a correlation between excess body fat and poor bone quality in the spine, regardless of the participants’ body mass index. Specifically, higher levels of belly fat were linked to lower bone quality in the trabecular bone of the spine, while individuals with greater fat mass in their arms were more likely to exhibit lower spine bone quality and strength.

Eva Kassi, study leaders and professor at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, said that they found that the fat composition of the arms, specifically the fat mass, is linked to lower bone quality and strength in the vertebrae. She uggests that measuring subcutaneous fat in the arms could potentially serve as a cost-effective way to predict the risk of vertebral fractures.

Visceral fat linked to low bone quality

Kassi observes a significant association between visceral fat, a type of fat enveloping organs and resistant to elimination, and diminished bone quality. Visceral fat harbors adipocytokines, molecules inducing mild inflammation, which detrimentally affect spinal bone quality and strength.

Future research will focus on confirming the connection between arm fat and spinal fracture risk, with plans to expand studies to include more participants, particularly younger adults aged 30 to 50 and more men.

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