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It is interesting to note that previously, these researchers have determined that cortical bone mass at the metacarpal bones is not a potent predictor of hip fracture over long term follow up.

Can metacarpal cortical area predict the occurrence of hip fracture in women and men over 3 decades of follow-up? Results from the Framingham Osteoporosis Study.
Kiel DP, Hannan MT, Broe KE, Felson DT, Cupples LA.
J Bone Miner Res. 2001 Dec;16(12):2260-6.

Low Bone Mass Linked to Heart Disease in Women

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Mar 24

Low bone mass, as determined by the metacarpal cortical area, predicts coronary heart disease in women, but not in men, according to a new report. "If low bone mass and atherosclerosis share a common pathogenesis, then strategies for prevention of osteoporosis may, in turn, have implications for reduction of cardiovascular disease risk," the investigators note. Although an inverse link between bone mineral density and stroke has been reported in women, no studies have looked at the ability of bone mass to predict cardiovascular disease, lead author Dr. Elizabeth J. Samelson, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues state in the March 15th issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. To investigate, the researchers analyzed data from 1236 women and 823 men who participated in The Framingham Study. The subjects were free from cardiovascular disease at baseline (1967-1970) when hand x-rays were taken. The participants were followed through the end of 1997 to assess heart disease incidence. The rate of coronary heart disease ranged from 11.76 to 15.65 cases/1000 person-years for women in the highest to the lowest metacarpal cortical area quartile (p = 0.03). In contrast, no association between heart disease risk and bone mass was seen in men. The presence of a correlation only in women may reflect sex-specific differences in how bone is mineralized, the pathophysiology of heart disease, or both, the authors note. The results suggest that boosting bone density may also prevent heart disease, the Dr. Samelson and colleagues infer. "However, in order to draw definitive conclusions regarding the implications of these findings on the treatment or prevention of osteoporosis, we need prospective studies that use current bone densitometry measures and include both women and men to elucidate the etiologies of these two important diseases."

ReferencesSamelson EJ, Kiel DP, Broe KE, Zhang Y, Cupples LA, Hannan MT, Wilson PW, Levy D, Williams SA, Vaccarino V. Metacarpal cortical area and risk of coronary heart disease: the Framingham Study. Am J Epidemiol 2004;159:589-595.
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