Study reveals bones of Chinese-American women may be stronger than those of Caucasian females

According to osteoporosis research from scientists at Columbia Engineering and Columbia University Medical Center, pre-menopausal Chinese-American women may have significantly greater bone density than Caucasian females. The study, which is the first of its kind to compare bone structure in these demographic groups, was presented at the Orthopaedic Research Society's annual meeting.

X. Edward Guo, professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia University's School of Engineering and Applied Science, led the research, which utilized a new analytical technique developed at Columbia Engineering. Individual Trabeculae Segmentation (ITS) is an advanced 3-D imaging analysis technique that can be used to study the microstructure and strength of the trabecular - one of the two types of tissue that form bone. This is also the first study to use ITS for an ethnic-based study of bone.

The researchers studied 95 women, 49 of whom are Caucasian and 46 of whom are Chinese-American, who had no significant differences in age.

"We found in this research that Chinese-American women do not have the same risk of fracture as Caucasian women due to the plate-like structure of their bone, which offers mechanical advantages over the rod-like structure found in the bones of Caucasian women," Guo said at the meeting. "Columbia Engineering's ITS is the only established technique that can distinguish plate vs. rod, and it clearly revealed in this study the striking magnitude of the differences between the bone structure of the Chinese-American and Caucasian women."

He added that "individual trabecular plates were significantly larger in the Chinese-American women versus the Caucasian women."

Guo and his colleagues recently traveled to China, and are planning to return to work on creating Columbia-associated research centers there in order to extend the research to Chinese women living in urban and rural areas of the country.
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