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Risks for Fractures, Bone Density, and Genetics

The number of seniors in our population is growing. With aging, the chance of falls and probability of low bone density create greater risks for fractures. Therefore, understanding the causes of low bone density and fractures is an important area of research for our rapidly aging, fracture-prone population.

The risk for fractures can lead to a decreased quality of life due to pain, mobility issues, and a lack of independence. Identifying reasons behind low bone density and increased risks for fractures can help prevent these events from occurring and can lead to treatments.

What the researchers found

To bring light to issues and causes plaguing our more senior people, Trajanoska and colleagues investigated the genetics behind the risks.1 To do so, they analyzed and compared the genomes of people who have experienced fractures with those who have not.

The researchers analyzed and compared the genes and lifestyle factors relating to thousands of people’s risks of fractures and low bone density. Fifteen locations on the genome were associated with fracture risk. All of these locations on the genome were at or near genes previously linked to bone density. Other potential risk factors, such as grip strength and vitamin D, were not found to be related to fracture risk.

What does this mean?

The results indicate a genetic component for low bone density and risks for fractures are more relevant than exercise and vitamin D status. This result aligns with previous results showing no links between vitamin D and calcium supplementation and fracture risk. The results also highlight a relationship between bone mineral density and fracture risk relating to women in menopause.


Together, the genes identified in this study and their effects represent potential targets for future drug development. The information from this study can also help doctors devise more comprehensive approaches to diminishing fracture risk.


  1. Trajanoska K, Morris J, Oei L, et al. Assessment of the genetic and clinical determinants of fracture risk: Genome wide association and mendelian randomisation study. The BMJ. https://www.bmj.com/content/362/bmj.k3225. Published August 29, 2018.


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