Mid-life structural changes to the jawbone may signal subsequent height loss in women, according to new research published in the journal BMJ Open.
Advancing skeletal deformation and/or degenerative processes, including osteoporosis, fallen arches in the feet, altered posture, spinal disc compression or loss, and vertebral fractures, are some of the explanations thought to be behind height loss in women. This height loss tends to accelerate after the age of 75 and is associated with increased risks of ill health and death.
A team of researchers from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and other Swedish institutes conducted a study on 933 women in Gothenburg, aged 38, 46, and 54. They examined the jawbones of these women to assess their general bone health, specifically looking for cortical erosion and trabecular sparseness. These attributes were studied to determine if they could indicate subsequent height loss in middle-aged women.
The results showed that women experienced a reduction in height over three observation intervals of 12-13 years, from 1968 to 2005. On average, women lost up to 0.9 centimeters (cms), 1 cm, and 2.4 cm during each interval, respectively.
The study also found that the prevalence of severe cortical erosion in women increased from just over 3% in the first interval, to just over 11% in the second, and nearly 50% in the third. Similarly, the prevalence of sparse trabeculation increased from 20% to 33.5% to almost 42% across the three intervals.
Moreover, the analysis revealed that height loss was greatest in women with severe cortical erosion and sparse trabeculation in each interval. The researchers hypothesize that the structural changes observed in the jawbone may mirror those occurring in the vertebrae, leading to height reduction and potentially playing a role in osteoporosis.
The study suggests that dentists, who often identify these jawbone changes through routine X-rays, could collaborate with patients’ doctors to explore preventive measures.
However, it is important to note that this study is observational and does not establish cause-and-effect relationships.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)
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