Assessing the influence of occupational and physical activity on the rate of degenerative change of the pubic symphysis in portuguese males from the 19th to 20th century

Authors

  • Vanessa Campanacho,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom
    2. CIAS (Centro de Investigação em Antropologia e Saúde) and Department of Life Sciences, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal
    • CIAS/Departamento de Ciências da Vida, Universidade de Coimbra, Apartado 3046, P 3001 401 Coimbra, Portugal
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Ana Luísa Santos,

    1. CIAS (Centro de Investigação em Antropologia e Saúde) and Department of Life Sciences, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Hugo F.V. Cardoso

    1. Universidade de Lisboa, Museu Nacional de História Natural & Centro de Biologia Ambiental, Lisboa, Portugal
    2. Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Medicina, Porto, Portugal
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Among the many factors suggested as potential sources of variation in the rate of ageing of the pubic symphysis is occupational/physical activity, but this has yet to be demonstrated. This study's main goal is to determine whether occupational/physical activity influences the aging process in the pubic symphysis. We analyzed a sample of 161 males (18–96 years) from two Portuguese identified skeletal collections, where age-related features were recorded in the pubic symphysis as absent/present. The sample was divided in two groups according to the occupation of the individuals (manual and non-manual) and in two groups according to the femoral robusticity index (robust and gracile). The manual and robust groups represent individuals with more physically demanding occupations while the non-manual and gracile groups represent less physically demanding occupations. The possible influence of occupational/physical activity on the rate of ageing was evaluated by comparing the transition age for each age-related feature, between the two groups, using logistic regression. Only the ligamentous outgrowths on the ventral beveling showed a statistically significant younger age in the robust group, indicating a possible faster rate or early timing of change in the individuals with a more physically demanding activity compared with their gracile counterparts. Thus, these results do not provide significant support to the hypothesis that individuals with a greater demanding occupation or physical activity show greater pubic symphysis degeneration. Further testing of this hypothesis in other samples with individuals from known occupation is required. Am J Phys Anthropol 148:371–378, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Ancillary