Researchers find overall satisfaction correlated to bone health


February 2, 2015

Topic: orthopaedic problems

Researchers from the University of Finland found that women between the ages of 60 and 70 who are satisfied with their lives are less likely to deal with osteoporosis and other orthopaedic problems than women who are not as satisfied.

Researchers from the University of Finland found that women between the ages of 60 and 70 who are satisfied with their lives are less likely to deal with osteoporosis and other orthopaedic problems than women who are not as satisfied.

The study authors arrived at these conclusions by examining data from the Kuopio Osteoporosis Risk Factor and Prevention Study. This program is an ongoing collection of bone density measurements and the amount of bone fractures since 1989. The researchers asked people who submitted their data to complete surveys and allow their current bone density to be measured. Initially, the study included approximately 2,167 women who had bone density measurements in 1999. Ten years later, the women were asked for follow-up data, and 1,147 of the women participated. The findings were published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

The participants were also surveyed on their overall satisfaction in their life. The women were separated into three groups depending on their responses: satisfied, OK and not satisfied. 

Learning about osteoporosis
The researchers chose to focus on women who were at-risk in this age group for a few reasons. The risks for osteoporosis are mainly linked to the number of bone fractures a person has experienced and his or her level of bone density. The National Osteoporosis Foundation noted that people who have had bone fractures in the past are more likely to have a lower bone density. Weak bones are associated with osteoporosis, which causes the bones to become porous and brittle. People who develop this condition become even more susceptible to sustain another type of fracture, known as a fragility fracture. These fractures most commonly occur in the wrists, hips and spine, all of which can cause people to be in recovery for prolonged periods of time. Currently, about 54 million people in the United States have osteoporosis, the NOF noted.

There are several risks associated with osteoporosis, a few of which are less common. It has also been associated with other factors, such as menopause, smoking, poor intake of calcium and vitamin D, physical inactivity, and drug use. However, levels of stress and depression can also play a role. People who deal with stress for long periods of time may become depressed, and as a result, may be less physically active and lose bone density.

Depression can often be measured by a person's subjective well-being. In this particular study, the researchers used the concept of overall satisfaction to determine subjective well-being.

Changes in bone density
The results revealed that of all participants, bone density levels decreased by 4 percent. However, the researchers found a significant difference in the bone density of satisfied and unsatisfied women, with a gap of 52 percent. They also noted that people whose amount of life satisfaction changed in those 10 years also had interesting results. Those who became less content with their lives over time lost bone density at rates of 85 percent. Yet those who grew increasingly OK with their lives had much better bone density.

So, overall contentment can play a larger role than most people think in bone health. Prior research has proven that poor life satisfaction is linked to a worse quality of life, greater chance of illness and a potentially higher mortality rate. This study suggests that satisfaction levels may influence a few specific types of health, such as bone health and osteoporosis. The researchers noted that because their study was aimed at older women, a program needs to be implemented that improves older adults' life contentment rates and potentially makes them healthier overall and lowers their chances of orthopaedic problems.


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