Study Shows Significant Impact of Chernobyl Nuclear Accident on Bone Development in Russian Women

Friday, September 19, 2008

This study of bone density compares BMD development in 2854 women affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident with two non-contaminated control groups using the DXL Calscan portable bone densitometer device. By Prof. S.S. Rodionova, CITO (Moscow).

A new study has been published in the international journal "Annals of Traumatology and Orthopedics" by a research team led by Prof. S.S. Rodionova, founder of the Russian Osteoporosis Society and Professor of Traumatology at the Central Institute of Traumatology & Orthopedics (CITO). Random bone mineral density testing was performed using the portable DXL Calscan device (Demetech, Sweden) on 2854 women who are now between the ages of 15 and 80 years. The device uses a patented technology of dual energy x-ray and laser (DXL) to better eliminate errors caused by lean soft tissue and fat in DXA devices.

The Chernobyl accident of April 1986 caused radioactive contamination to the environment in many communities in the Brjansk region of western Russia, near the Ukraine and Belarus borders. While some specific communities within this region were spared from this contamination, other communities were greatly affected. The effects of the environmental damage caused in the affected communities continue to be seen in the form of health problems for their inhabitants. This study examines the increased risk of osteoporosis and future fragility fractures in affected areas compared to control groups.

The subjects from the city of Novozybkov, a well-documented area of radioactive contamination, were compared to subjects from the city Zhukovka (also in the Brjansk region, but unaffected by contamination) and subjects from the city of Tver (northwest of Moscow and far from the contaminated area). The second control group from Tver was added to assure that subjects from Zhukovka were actually representative of a non-contaminated population, due to Zhukovka's relative proximity to the contaminated area. A comparison of the results from these two control groups showed no significant differences in the age-adjusted BMD values for women from Zhukovka or Tver. The subjects from all three cities were also verified to be life-long residents of their respective cities.

Results from the age-adjusted comparison of subjects from the non-contaminated areas to the subjects from the contaminated area were significantly different and these differences were confirmed statistically as reliable (p>0.001). Logistic regression analysis showed that in women >56 years of age from the contaminated area, the decrease in bone mineral density per year was almost double that of the decrease per year from the non-contaminated areas. It was also shown that the increased risk of future osteoporosis development was mainly due to the negative influence on subjects in attaining normal peak bone mass formation at young ages. In fact, the largest differences in age-adjusted bone density were found in individuals who were around the age of 10 years at the time of the accident, i.e. in whom the process of peak bone mass formation proceeded during very unfavorable conditions. It is important to note that these unfavorable conditions for bone development also include significant changes in diet for inhabitants in the contaminated area due to the lack of access to affordable fresh foods locally.

In conclusion the authors state that widespread use of the DXL Calscan scanner could permit control of rates of peak bone mass formation in the young, allowing the formation of osteoporosis risk groups for outpatient observation and treatment if necessary. The aim would be to reduce the number of patients who develop osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures in the future, when these patients begin to exceed the age of 50 years.

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