Bone mineral density and the risk of incident dementia: A meta-analysis

Christine W. Lary*, Samuel Ghatan, Meghan Gerety, Alexandra Hinton, Archana Nagarajan, Clifford Rosen, Ryan D. Ross, David A. Bennett, Anita L. DeStefano, Mohammad A. Ikram, Fernando Rivadeneira, Douglas P. Kiel, Sudha Seshadri, Alexa Beiser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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It is not known whether bone mineral density (BMD) measured at baseline or as the rate of decline prior to baseline (prior bone loss) is a stronger predictor of incident dementia or Alzheimer's disease (AD). 


We performed a meta-analysis of three longitudinal studies, the Framingham Heart Study (FHS), the Rotterdam Study (RS), and the Rush Memory and Aging Project (MAP), modeling the time to diagnosis of dementia as a function of BMD measures accounting for covariates. We included individuals with one or two BMD assessments, aged ≥60 years, and free of dementia at baseline with follow-up available. BMD was measured at the hip femoral neck using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), or at the heel calcaneus using quantitative ultrasound to calculate estimated BMD (eBMD). BMD at study baseline (“baseline BMD”) and annualized percentage change in BMD prior to baseline (“prior bone loss”) were included as continuous measures. The primary outcome was incident dementia diagnosis within 10 years of baseline, and incident AD was a secondary outcome. Baseline covariates included age, sex, body mass index, ApoE4 genotype, and education. 


The combined sample size across all three studies was 4431 with 606 incident dementia diagnoses, 498 of which were AD. A meta-analysis of baseline BMD across three studies showed higher BMD to have a significant protective association with incident dementia with a hazard ratio of 0.47 (95% CI: 0.23–0.96; p = 0.038) per increase in g/cm2, or 0.91 (95% CI: 0.84–0.995) per standard deviation increase. We observed a significant association between prior bone loss and incident dementia with a hazard ratio of 1.30 (95% CI: 1.12–1.51; p < 0.001) per percent increase in prior bone loss only in the FHS cohort. 


Baseline BMD but not prior bone loss was associated with incident dementia in a meta-analysis across three studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-200
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number1
Early online date7 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of The American Geriatrics Society.


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