Latest News » For older women, weight fluctuations can increase bone fracture risk

Weight gain and weight loss has been found to be associated with an increased risk of bone fractures in older women.

As we get older, it becomes more and more important to take care of and watch out for weakening bones. After all, when you're 60 and 70 years old, you don't recover from a fall as quickly or easily as you did when you were 20. But a new study finds that older people, in particular older women, may be stuck in a catch-22 when it comes to protecting their bone health, with research pointing to any changes in weight — either weight gain or weight loss — increasing the risk for fractures.

The researchers, led by University of California, Los Angeles professor Carolyn Crandall, surveyed over 120,000 healthy menopausal women, between 50 and 79 years old, over an 11-year span. Their findings, published in the January 27 edition of BMJ, determined that women who exhibited weight loss of up to 5 percent were 65 percent more likely to suffer a broken hip, 30 percent more likely to fracture their pelvis or spine and 9 percent more likely to break an upper limb.

On the other end of the spectrum, bone fracture risks also increased for women who gained weight too. A 5 percent weight gain was found to make lower limb fractures 18 percent more likely and upper limb fractures 10 percent more likely.

"The investigators also found that unintentional weight loss was associated with a higher risk of hip and spine fractures," writes HealthDay News. "On the other hand, intentional weight loss was associated with a higher risk of lower limb fractures, but a lower risk of hip fractures."

While it's important to keep a careful eye on the integrity of your bone strength, it's also essential for proper body and brain health to maintain a healthy weight, reducing your risk for life-threatening conditions like stroke, hypertension and heart disease. 

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