Harvard Women's Health Watch

In Brief: Even mildly impaired kidney function can affect bone health

In Brief

Even mildly impaired kidney function can affect bone health

Women suffer two-thirds of the 300,000 hip fractures that occur each year in the United States. According to a study in the Jan. 22, 2007, Archives of Internal Medicine, poor kidney function may be a factor.

Doctors have long recognized a link between advanced kidney disease (the kind requiring dialysis) and fractures, but this is the first study to show such a connection with milder forms of kidney impairment. Drawing on data from 9,700 women participating in the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures, investigators compared three groups: women who experienced hip fractures, those who developed vertebral fractures, and a control group. Kidney function (normal, mildly impaired, or moderately impaired) was determined by blood levels of creatinine, a waste product filtered by the kidneys.

Women with mild or moderate impairment had a significantly higher risk for hip fracture, compared to women with normal kidney function (the link to vertebral fractures was much weaker). For one type of hip fracture — trochanteric fracture (see illustration) — the difference was dramatic. Women with mild kidney impairment were nearly four times as likely — and those with moderate impairment, five times as likely — to have trochanteric fractures.

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