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Puberty & Osteoporosis

February 16, 2011

How early or late you hit puberty influences your risk of osteoporosis in old age.



A drawback to late puberty…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The later you hit puberty, the sooner you may develop osteoporosis.  This according to research led by Vicente Gilsanz, director of Clinical Imaging at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.  Gilsanz explains that bone mass peaks when we stop growing, and gradually drops from then on.  His team measured bone mass in 162 boys and girls as they went through puberty.

 VICENTE GILSANZ (Univ. of Southern California/Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles):

And what we saw is that indeed, those who start earlier tend to have considerably or significantly more bone than those who start late.


In fact, starting puberty just one year earlier than average increased peak bone mass by 5 percent.  That’s enough to delay osteoporosis for up to five years.  Gilsanz’ results may affect decisions about artificially delaying puberty – a technique sometimes used to help short children grow.   I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.