Type 2 diabetes and the bone fracture risk association can be better understood using a virtual bone biopsy. The researchers used high resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HRpQCT) to assess bone structure and strength at a microstructural level in living patients.
The images showed that type 2 diabetes patients have structural defects within their bones which overtime can cause them to become weaker which could explain the higher rates of bone fractures seen among type 2 diabetes patients.
Lead researcher Dr. Mark Edwards said, “This is a very interesting discovery using a very novel technique. We’ve known for some time that people with type 2 diabetes are at risk of fracture, but have not been able to fully explain why. This new imaging technique has been able to identify that the cortical component of bone – the outer rim of the bone – tends to exhibit greater porosity in those with type 2 diabetes, compared to those without. We can now see where there is a specific deficit within the bone, which may help clinicians to develop appropriate therapies to prevent future fractures.”
Diabetes and the risk of bone fractures
Osteoporosis is a common bone disease among older adults, and although it is more common in women, men are not immune to it, too. As calcium is lost, so is the bone strength. As a result, the bones in older adults become more fragile and prone to fractures.
There are many risk factors for osteoporosis including age, diet, and exercise habits, but type 2 diabetes is also a risk factor. In one Norwegian study in particular, the risk of hip fractures was higher among those with diabetes in a shorter duration, compared to individuals without diabetes. An American study also found that diabetes was associated with higher fracture risk despite higher bone mineral density among patients.
Tips for better bone health with diabetes
The good news is, no matter how old you are, you can still do your part to maintain strong healthy bones and reduce your risk of bone fractures leading to disability. Here are some tips for better bone health in diabetes.
Food and diet: Ensure you are getting in plenty of calcium and vitamin D and speak to your doctor about whether calcium supplements are necessary. For the most part, calcium can be enjoyed through dietary means and not just dairy. Many dark leafy greens can provide you with calcium as well.
Exercise: Weight-bearing exercises help build stronger bones and help you lose weight. Having extra pounds puts increased pressure on bones, weakening them over time. Therefore, build muscle and lose the fat for stronger bones.
Medications: Your doctor may be able to prescribe you specific medications to help keep your bones strong. These medications help boost bone-resorbing cells, preventing the bones from breaking down as easily and quickly over time.
Healthy lifestyle: Don’t smoke as smoking had been found to contribute to weak bones by reducing calcium absorption. Alcohol can also negatively impact your bones, so keep your drinking to a minimum.
By following these tips, you can work to create stronger bones with or without diabetes and reduce your risk of dangerous fractures.