Fat or Lean Tissue Mass: Which One Is the Major Determinant of Bone Mineral Mass in Healthy Postmenopausal Women?



The relative importance of fat and lean tissue mass in determining bone mineral mass among postmenopausal women was examined in this 1-year longitudinal study. Fifty postmenopausal Caucasian women entered the study; 45 of them completed a 1-year follow-up. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry was employed for measuring total and regional bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (BMC), fat tissue mass (FTM), lean tissue mass (LTM), and body weight. Results from linear regression analysis using the cross-sectional data (n = 50) of the study indicated that LTM explained a larger percentage of variation in bone mineral mass than did FTM. FTM and LTM were found to be moderately correlated (r = 0.55); when FTM was entered in the same predicting regression models, LTM was a significant predictor (p < 0.05) of the total and regional BMC, but not BMD. The percent FTM (and inversely %LTM) was correlated with BMD and BMC, but significant correlation was primarily found only for total body BMD (or BMC). Weight was the best predictor of total body BMD and BMC. Longitudinally (n = 45), annual changes in both FTM and weight were significantly associated with annual changes in regional BMD after adjustment for initial bone mineral values (p < 0.05). We conclude that bone mineral mass is more closely related to LTM than to FTM, while annual changes in regional BMD are more closely correlated with changes in FTM in healthy postmenopausal women. Meanwhile, increased body weight is significantly associated with increased bone mineral mass.