The Link Between Osteoporosis and Parkinson’s Disease

Osteoporosis illustrationOsteoporosis is an important concern for many people living with Parkinson’s disease, according to the results of a study.

Researchers in the Netherlands explored the prevalence of osteoporosis and the factors that lead to bone loss in people with Parkinson’s disease. Their study, “Bone mineral density and vitamin D status in Parkinson's disease patients,” appears in the Journal of Neurology. It was published online ahead of print in October 2012.

The researchers argue that there are many factors that may influence the association between Parkinson’s disease and osteoporosis. These factors include medication use, immobility, lack of vitamin D and poor nutrition, lowered muscle strength, and low body mass index.

To better understand the reasons why bone loss is more commonly seen in people with Parkinson’s disease than people without it, the researchers examined data on 186 people living with Parkinson’s (average age 64.1; 71% male).

Participants’ 25-OH vitamin D levels were compared with individuals in a control group (n = 802; average age 63.3; 50% men).  Researchers also looked at the patients’ bone mineral density (BMD), which was measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Univariate linear regression analysis was used to expose the factors that influenced patients’ BMD.

The study results demonstrated a high prevalence of osteoporosis and osteopenia in people living with Parkinson’s disease. More than half of the participants with early stage Parkinson’s disease had abnormal BMD levels, and lower vitamin D levels were found in patients with Parkinson’s disease (when compared with the control group). Factors that increased a person’s chances of having bone loss were gender (women were more likely than men to have bone loss); having low vitamin D levels; and low weight.

The study authors state that their results highlight the need for more emphasis on bone health and increased vitamin D intake in people with Parkinson’s disease.

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