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Osteoporosis Treatment and Information Discussion of the bone disease Osteoporosis

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Old 05-03-2007, 10:49 PM   #1
Ray K
 
Default Is a higher bone density better?

Regarding the notion of denser bones being better regarding fracture
risk: Imagine dropping an ordinary #2 pencil (or a drinking straw) and a
glass rod of identical size from a height of, say, eight feet onto
concrete? Which is going to break: the dense rod or the pencil (or
straw)? I dropped that thought on my endocrinologist the other day. She
mumbled something about things being more complex than that, but didn't
offer a rebuttal.

Ray
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Old 05-03-2007, 10:49 PM   #2
ron
 
Default Re: Is a higher bone density better?

Ray...IMO, this isn't a meaningful anaolgy. You can set it up a lot
of different ways and get a lot of different answers. For example,

Imagine dropping an ordinary #2 pencil (or a drinking straw) and a
lead rod of identical size from a height of, say, eight feet onto
concrete

....best wishes and good health, ron
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Old 05-03-2007, 10:49 PM   #3
Ray K
 
Default Re: Is a higher bone density better?

Good point, Ron. The lead rod is clearly denser, but lead is very
flexible so it won't break. The issue becomes one of flexibility as well
as density.

My concern is, are we being overly frightened about the dangers of low
density leading to increased fracture risk so as to get people on
expensive drugs? Big Pharma is notorious for doing this.

See my new post "Relative risk."

Ray
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Old 05-03-2007, 10:50 PM   #4
Art S
 
Default Re: Is a higher bone density better?

There are two basic factors of bone that determine the likelihood of a
fracture (translation: I'm ignoring outside influences like falling).

First is the hardness of the bone. This is generally controlled by the
amount of calcium, magnesium, etc. in the bone.

Second is the amount of shock the bone can absorb without needing to
flex/bend. This is controlled by the matrix that the calcium, etc. is in and
how much it can flex/compress/etc.

Both factors are important. If the bone is too hard, it is very likely to break
or fracture when there is a significant impact. If it isn't hard enough (think of the
traditional wet noodle), it won't provide any support.

If an oak tree and a willow are right next to each other, the oak would
barely be affected in a breeze, but the willow will be moving as it's
branches are tossed around. In a strong wind, however, the oak is far
more likely to have a branch break off because it wasn't flexible enough
to bend in the wind.

The problem with all this is that the only thing we can measure - without
destroying the bone - is bone density. How do you know how flexible the
bone is? Bend it until it breaks. I wouldn't want MY bone tested that way.
Would you?

Since, pragmatically speaking, bone density is all we can measure, it is
what we do measure.

Art
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Old 05-03-2007, 10:50 PM   #5
PikaB
 
Default Re: Is a higher bone density better?

This analogy might be accurate if the bone had to only support
its own weight, but it has to primarily support the weight of the body
(and the force applied to it). Sure, if you drop just a straw, the
straw
will not break, but if you attach a 50 lb. weight to each end of the
straw and drop it, the straw will be crushed.
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Old 10-11-2013, 04:55 PM   #6
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