How does the incidence of osteoporosis differ among racial groups?

Updated: Sep 26, 2019
  • Author: Monique Bethel, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
  • Print
Answer

Osteoporosis can occur in persons of all races and ethnicities. In general, however, whites (especially of northern European descent) and Asians are at increased risk. In particular, non-Hispanic white women and Asian women are at higher risk for osteoporosis. In the most recent government census, 178 million Chinese were over age 60 years in 2009, a number that the United Nations estimates may reach 437 million—one-third of the population—by 2050. [68]

These numbers suggest that approximately 50% of all hip fractures will occur in Asia in the next century. In fact, although age-standardized incidence rates of fragility fractures, particularly of the hip and forearm, have been noted to be decreasing in many countries over the last decade, that is not the case in Asia. [69]

Table 4, below, summarizes some osteoporosis prevalence statistics among racial/ethnic groups. Note that this disease is under-recognized and undertreated in white and black women. Relative to other racial/ethnic groups, the risk of developing osteoporosis is increasing fastest among Hispanic women.

Table 4. Prevalence of Osteoporosis Among Racial and Ethnic Groups (Open Table in a new window)

Race/Ethnicity

Sex (age ≥50 y)

% Estimated to have osteoporosis

% Estimated to have low bone mass

Non-Hispanic white; Asian

Women

15.8

52.6

Men

3.9

36

Non-Hispanic black

Women

7.7

36.2

Men

1.3

21.3

Hispanic

Women

20.4

47.8

Men

5.9

38.3

Source:  Wright NC, Looker AC, Saag KG, Curtis JR, Delzell ES, Randall S, et al. The recent prevalence of osteoporosis and low bone mass in the United States based on bone mineral density at the femoral neck or lumbar spine. J Bone Miner Res. Nov 2014;29(11):2520-6. [Medline].

Melton et al reported that the prevalence of hip fractures is higher in white populations, regardless of geographic location. [70] Another study indicated that, in the United States and South Africa, the incidence of hip fractures was lower in black persons than in age-matched white persons. Cauley et al found that the absolute fracture incidence across BMD distribution was 30-40% lower in black women than in white women. This lower fracture risk was independent of BMD and other risk factors. [71]


Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!