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.