Type 1 Diabetes Linked to Higher Risk of Bone Fractures

Patients with type 1 diabetes may have a significantly higher risk of bone fractures, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Delaware.

This lesser-known complication of type 1 diabetes was studied in rats with the condition, with a particular emphasis on how physical exercise can help to improve bone properties and reduce fracture risk.

"Clinical trials have revealed a startling elevation in fracture risk in diabetic patients," said study author Liyun Wang, associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Delaware. "Bone fractures can be life threatening - nearly one in six hip fracture patients dies within a year of injury."

According to the National Institutes of Health, people with type 1 diabetes may have lower bone mass than other individuals due to a variety of factors - and that women with the condition could have an increased risk for fractures and falls.

Bone health and high blood sugar

Bone cells, or osteocytes, help to maintain the integrity of bone tissue, explained Wang. The study found that high blood sugar compromises the ability of osteocytes to build stronger bone.

Researchers also discovered that, in situations where hyperglycemia is not severe, bone health can improve in response to exercise and thereby lower risk for fractures.

"Our results stress the importance of maintaining good control of blood sugar in diabetic patients so that exercise can do its work in maintaining bone health," said Dr. Jim Lenhard, collaborator in Wang's research and director of the Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases at Christiana Care Health System.

In addition to exercise, a diet rich in vitamin D and calcium can help improve bone health. A bone density test - which individuals can ask their physicians about - can also detect signs of osteoporosis before a fracture occurs.

Source: University of Delaware, NIH
Image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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