Diabetes May Break Your Bones

Type 2 diabetes patients may have increased risk of hip and non-spinal fractures

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) When people grow old, their body gets weaker. Their muscles aren't as strong and their bones can become fragile. Broken bones are common among older adults, especially if they have diabetes.

Now, researchers have found a way to see if older people with type 2 diabetes are at risk of breaking bones.

Diabetes patients may have a higher risk of hip or non-spinal fractures compared to people without diabetes. A diabetes patient's risk of breaking bones is linked to two different scores - known as bone mineral density (BMD) T scores and WHO Fracture Risk Algorithm (FRAX) scores.

"Older diabetes patients have a higher risk of breaking bones."

A low bone mineral density (the amount of matter in bones) is an important part in predicting the risk of fracture in older adults. However, it was not known if low bone mineral density could spot fracture risk in patients with type 2 diabetes.

People with diabetes generally have a higher bone mineral density. Yet, at the same time, they have a higher risk of broken bones.

Ann V. Schwarts, Ph.D., from the University of California - San Francisco, and colleagues wanted to see if BMD T scores and FRAX scores were linked to the risk of hip and non-spinal fractures.

The researchers looked at cases of fractures in nearly 18,000 older adults, including 1,199 men and 770 women with type 2 diabetes. Over the course of 12 years, 84 women and 32 men with diabetes fractured their hip. In that same period, 262 women and 133 men with diabetes had non-spinal fractures.

The risk of fracture for diabetes patients was associated with both BMD T scores and FRAX scores. Even with a higher bone mass density, some diabetes patients could have the same risk of fracture as someone with osteoporosis - the loss of bone density over time.

This study does not show why people with type 2 diabetes have this increased risk of broken bones. More research is needed to figure out this question.

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Review Date: 
June 2, 2011
Last Updated:
June 4, 2011