An Australian study has shown that men with type 1 diabetes lost bone mineral density at the femoral neck at a rate comparable to that of post-menopausal women with type 2 diabetes, which also demonstrate higher rates of bone mineral loss.
The study was carried out over 5 years and followed 53 people in total, with 17 of these being men with type 1 diabetes. Measurements of bone mineral density were taken at the start and end of the study. By contrast, neither pre-menopausal women with type 1 diabetes nor men with type 2 diabetes demonstrated a loss of bone mineral density.
The femoral neck is the least wide part of the femur, the upper leg bone that joins with the pelvis at the hip. People with a weaker femoral neck will therefore be at a higher risk of suffering hip fracture. Previous larger scale meta-studies of patients with diabetes have shown that people with type 1 diabetes have more than a 6 times higher risk of bone fracture. This compares with people with type 2 diabetes for which the increased in bone fracture risk is about 1.5 times higher than the non-diabetic population.
The researchers also noted a decrease in free testosterone in the men with type 1 diabetes. The sex hormone, testosterone, is known to be an important factor in maintaining bone density and avoiding osteoporosis.
The study, titled ‘A five-year prospective study of bone mineral density in men and women with diabetes: The Fremantle Diabetes Study’ was published in the Acta Diabetologica journal.

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