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Can Cognitive Decline Predict Faster Bone Loss?

NOVEL research has demonstrated that cognitive decline measured over 5 years increases future fracture risk in women. A study of individuals aged 65 and older, led by the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, has discovered a potential new approach to help identify older people who may be at risk of future fractures.

The research has suggested that cognition and bone health should be monitored in older people as a decline in one could mean a decline in the another. These findings may help redefine the best practice guidelines of how cognition and bone health are monitored in old age to ensure efficient and effective treatment.

“Cognitive decline and bone loss both result in increased disability, loss of independence, and an increased risk of mortality,” says Dana Bluic from the Garvan Institute and first author of the paper. Around the world, 200 million people from osteoporosis and 35 million are affected by dementia; these figures are expected to double over the next 20 years as the global population continues to age and the increase of life expectancy.

Research was based on data from the CaMos and investigated the cognitive and bone health measurements of 1,741 women and 620 men. All participants had no symptoms of cognitive decline at the beginning of the study. A significant link between decline in cognitive health and bone loss was found in women; however, the association was weaker and not statistically significant in men.

Bluic stated that “cognitive decline over the first five years was associated with a 1.7-fold increase in future fracture risk in women in the subsequent 10 years”

Though the study could not identify a causal link, researchers added that the link could potentially be mediated by a third factor such as oestrogen deficiency. which has independently been associated with both bone loss and cognitive decline. Future research is needed to discover the link between these two conditions.