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Family history of diabetes linked to increased bone mineral density

The study demonstrates the effect of first-degree family history of diabetes on bone loss, insulin resistance, and hyperinsulinemia, despite normal blood glucose levels

The association between type 2 diabetes and increased fracture risk is well documented. However, little was known about the possible effect of family history of diabetes on bone mineral density (BMD). A study from China now confirms that a history of first-degree family members with diabetes is linked to increased BMD as well as to insulin resistance. Results are published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Because patients with type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk of fracture, understanding the early pathophysiology of altered BMD could be critical in the development of preventive strategies for diabetic osteoporosis. Although strong evidence has revealed normal to high BMD in most patients with type 2 diabetes, no data have been published, to date, that demonstrate whether BMD is altered in persons with a first-degree family history of diabetes.

In this new study involving nearly 900 normoglycemic postmenopausal women, it was found that the BMD of the lumbar spine and femoral neck was significantly higher in participants with a first-degree family history of diabetes than in those without such history, even in women with normal blood glucose levels. These same participants additionally showed increased insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia.


A first-degree family history of diabetes (FHD) contributes to increased risks of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. Bone is an insulin-resistant site and an organ susceptible to microvascular complications. The goal of the present study was to investigate the association of FHD with bone mineral density (BMD) in postmenopausal women.

In all, 892 normoglycemic postmenopausal women were divided into subgroups of participants with or without a first-degree FHD. BMD was measured using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Fasting plasma insulin and glucose levels were measured, and insulin resistance was evaluated using the Homeostasis Model Assessment-Insulin Resistance (HOMA-IR) index.

The BMD of the lumbar spine and femoral neck were much higher in the participants with a first-degree FHD than in those without an FHD (all P < 0.05). Lumbar spine BMD and femoral neck BMD were both positively associated with HOMA-IR (P = 0.041 and P = 0.005, respectively). Multiple stepwise regression analysis showed that a first-degree FHD was an independent factor that was positively associated with lumbar spine BMD (standardized β = 0.111, P = 0.001) and femoral neck BMD (standardized β = 0.078, P = 0.021). A first-degree FHD was associated with increased BMD, insulin resistance, and hyperinsulinemia.

Our study indicated that normoglycemic postmenopausal women with a first-degree FHD exhibit increased BMD with insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia. A first-degree FHD was an independent factor associated with elevated BMD in Chinese women after menopause.


Yang L, Hu X, Zhang H, Pan W, Yu W, Gu X. Association of bone mineral density with a first-degree family history of diabetes in normoglycemic postmenopausal women. Menopause. 2019 Aug 19. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001396. [Epub ahead of print]

Content created 26 August 2019

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