Osteoporosis and Hip Fractures among Caucasian Women

As we age, our bones become more fragile and more likely to fracture. However, this does not occur in equal proportions among different races and ethnicities. Among all ethnicities, women are much more likely to develop osteoporosis than men. One of the main reasons is that women normally have a lower bone mass and density than men. However, there are many conflicting explanations as to the differences between races and ethnicities.

I believe that these differences arise from different reasons other than race and ethnicity; that it has much more to do with lifestyle, culture and geography, and genetics. A common misconception is that genetic makeup is the same as race. However, there have been no biological differences found between all identified races. There are differences in genetics between different groups and ethnicities. These come about from mutations and adaptations to better survive in certain conditions. This may be a factor in bone density among women. Those in harsher conditions that demanded a very active lifestyle would be at an advantage if they had a high bone density and low occurrence of osteoporosis.

In this study, Dr. Cauley believed that the difference between white and African Americans had to do with age and social status. White women tend to have osteoporosis and hip fractures at earlier ages. Unfortunately, most African American women do not survive these hip fractures either due to older age or economic disparity, which leaves them unable to get the help and treatment they need. Even though statistically it looks as though white women have a higher prevalence, it is because African Americans obtain the disease later in life and have a lower survival rate. Diet and lifestyle is also a very good predictor of osteoporosis. A sedimentary lifestyle among females in some indian tribes, along with a diet lacking certain nutrients like calcium put them at a much higher risk. This is not due to genetics or race, but rather lifestyle among an entire group of people.






Cauley, Jane. “Defining Ethnic and Racial Differences in Osteoporosis and Fragility Fractures.” Clin Orthop Relat Res. 7: 1891-1899.


This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Breanna Ramsay says:

    I really liked your explanation of genetic make-up and how it is not the same as race. It has been a misconception for some time now that genetic make-up determines race, but as we have learned that is not the case. I thought it was really interesting how you brought up how mutations and adaptations in genes could factor in to some of the differences in bone density levels and the occurrence of osteoporosis in certain races and ethnicities.

    I don’t know exactly how useful racial categories are in clinical studies. My reason for thinking this is that because we have used racial categories for so long in clinical studies that we may find it hard to group people by any other way. As the Gravlee article tries to explain there is more than meets the eye to why there are racialized health disparities and that it’s not just genetic. There are other factors that play into why racialized health disparities occur. Inequalities in economic status are one of the factors that play a major role in racialized disparities. Stressors such as racism or of job loss were other factors that seemed to affect health as well. We got to see some examples of these in the Unnatural Causes episodes.

  2. Melinda Zielinski says:

    Originally I clicked on your post because I am Caucasian as well and I find what you chose to talk about very interesting. Sadly, it is true that osteoporosis is a huge problem with our race. I also like how you mentioned that women are more likely than men to have this problem. I wish people would realize this and take better care of there bodies because osteoporosis can be prevented for a long time through healthy diet and exercise. Anyways I like how you defined the relationship between race, genetics, and health. I too believe more than what our skin color is, what our hair looks like, or the color of our eyes causes differences. Like you stated lifestyle, culture and geography, and genetics all play roles on what happens in our lives especially what illness or disease we obtain. The only thing I can think of that wasn’t explicitly out there in your post is about how race is more associated with our biology (even though it is not biologically discrete) and our ethnicities we associate or identify with, is determined by our culture or society. Finally, I completely agree with your statement that our genetic makeup playing a role in our racial category. It’s our genetics that determine what traits we will have, characteristics, body types, and color of our skin, hair, eyes etc.
    As for racial categories I believe they can be very beneficial in clinical studies. As we found out with this assignment, certain races are more susceptible to certain illness or diseases, like the US Pima Indians and Type II Diabetes. Mutations happen, like you stated in your post that probably made women more susceptible to osteoporosis, and are carried out through the kin lines of certain races. This doesn’t mean that if you identify as a certain race you’ll have that problem but it does make you more susceptible to develop that problem. Healthcare professionals group people based on their race and the health problems they are more likely to obtain. This is also why grouping people based on race (which can be very hard) offers a better way of talking about racialized health disparities. If someone of a certain race comes in to a health clinic with a problem, doctors can go through a list based off of symptoms the patient has and what they are most susceptible to and narrow the health problem down faster. It’s also useful because you can compare problems of certain racial groups to other racial groups and find out the health problem and treatments faster as well. In return, healthcare/clinical studies become more efficient. Overall I really enjoyed your post. Great information! 🙂

  3. Carrie Blackwell says:

    Your explanation on how race, genetics, and health relates to each other is very similar to my own opinion. I agree that your health is mostly directly correlated to one’s own life style choices. Choices such as diet, exercise, smoking, etc. can affect one’s health in many ways. I also agree on your point that there is no biologically proven distinctions between separate races. I also thought it was interesting how you added an extra category to this assignment. You talked about gender, and how osteoporosis affects mostly women. Another explanation towards this topic you wrote about was how different genes have adapted to what a certain ethnicity may have been exposed to. That may explain how different people experience different types and degrees of certain illnesses.
    I believe that racial categories are useful in clinical studies but only to a certain degree. Racial studies can show a correlation among a certain group towards an illness but they do not necessarily give causation. For example, it may be more common for Caucasian women to have osteoporosis than African American women, but that does not mean that all Caucasian women will have osteoporosis. It also doesn’t mean that an African American women cannot develop osteoporosis.

  4. Shelby Brewington says:

    First I would like to let you know that I clicked on your post because I found your choice in topic of Osteoporosis in Caucasian women very interesting. Especially because I myself am a Caucasian women. I thought that your explanation of how race, genetics, and health was very good. I like how you started off with pointing out the differences between genders, and transitioning into talking about ethnicities. I completely agree that there is more to the prevalence of Osteoporosis such as like you pointed out, culture, genetics, and especially lifestyle. I also liked how after you used the word genetics your clarified that there are no biological differences found between races. Therefore pointing out that race is not encoded for by ones genetics. I think it would have been nice to maybe also tie in the idea of overall health, and how ones overall health can be impacted by osteoporosis. Other than that I believe you hit the same points that I myself would have when speaking of Genetics, Race, and health.

    When it comes to racial categories in clinical studies, I find them useful as an indicator to a bigger problem. For example she one particular racial group seems to be the target for a particular illness, I question what outside factors could be impacting this race. For example poverty level, urbanization, close living proximity, over population, or many other different problems that steam from a common culture or living situation. In my opinion a better way of thinking about radicalized health disparities is to compare what that particular race for the most part shares in common. Then to address the bigger problem will help in hopefully preventing the occurrence of illness in that racial category.

  5. Ashley Start says:

    Your approach to the subject of osteoporosis among caucasian females was very interesting and I wouldn’t have considered osteoporosis as an adaptation for Caucasian women to better survive in certain conditions. I would typically think that osteoporosis would arise out of some sort of negative aspect of one’s health in their life rather than a useful adaptation and I’d be interested to know how it could be beneficial to survival. I also thought it was helpful that you included the difference in how osteoporosis affects Caucasian and African American people and how Caucasian women are generally affected earlier in life, rather than later when fractures due to osteoporosis can be more detrimental or even fatal. I think racial categories can be beneficial in clinical studies because it allows the clinician to get a good understanding of the person’s health and the diseases they are more susceptible to or may be suffering from based on their race. It can also be useful in determining diseases their relatives may have suffered from if the individual does not know their full medical background or may be adopted and not know their medical history because of that. Racialized health disparities can make this detrimental to some individuals, however.

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