CUHK Leads Largest NIH-Funded Research on Osteoporosis In Asia
In the past, osteoporosis in men was most common in Northern Europe, intermediate in the US and low in Asia. However, research done by CUHK revealed that osteoporosis in men increased by two folds in the last 10 years, prompting a rapid reversal of the international trend. This finding has alerted international researchers to focus on osteoporosis in men and NIH targeted the problem as one of the priority areas.
The CUHK research team, led by Professor Edith Lau Ming-chu, Director of Jockey Club Center for Osteoporosis Care and Control and Professor of the Department of Community & Family Medicine, is part of the first tripartite international study on osteoporosis in men. International collaborators are University of California, San Francisco, and Oregon Health & Science University from the USA and Department of Orthopaedics, University of Malmo of Sweden. Co-Investigators from Hong Kong are Professor Leung Ping-chung, Professor of Orthopaedcis & Traumatology, Professor Jean Woo, Professor of Medicine & Therapeutics, and Professor Samuel Wong, Assistant Professor, Department of Community & Family Medicine, CUHK.
"CUHK was selected as a study site among many Asian competitors, due to its very strong track record of research in osteoporosis, excellent research infrastructure, and close links with the two leading groups in osteoporosis research in the US. This landmark international study, with a strong Asian focus, will bring major breakthroughs to the field of osteoporosis research in men, on a global basis," commented Professor Jack Cheng Chun-yiu, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of CUHK.
In the Mr Os Hong Kong
study, two thousand men aged 65 years and older will be followed up
for 5 years. The objectives are to study:
Professor Steve Cummings, Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology & Biostatistics and Associate Chair for Clinical Research, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, praised CUHK for its excellence and research in medicine in a congratulatory message.
"It is the largest study ever undertaken about osteoporosis in men: the 2,000 men who will participate from Hong Kong join 4,000 in the U.S. and 2,000 in Sweden for several years of examinations to find out clues to the prevention of fractures, prostate cancer and heart disease. I understand that this is the largest NIH award ever made to an investigator in Asia. It is a tribute to the many years of excellent research by Professor Lau and her group. Professor Lau is recognized around the world for her excellence in research on osteoporosis. In particular, the Jockey Club Center for Osteoporosis Care and Control is recognized as one of the few best centers for research and care in the world.
I have had the privilege and pleasure of working with Professor Lau and colleagues for 15 years. I look forward to another 15 years of close collaboration with her and her team and CUHK," said Professor Cummings.
Professor Edith Lau said in the press conference that osteoporosis in men is as common as cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus, though not many people are aware of this. Research findings showed that as many as 40% of Chinese men have osteopenia; and 9% have osteoporosis. The total number of men in with osteoporosis or osteopenia hence approaches 180,000. (see table 1)
CUHK research also indicates some factors of osteoporosis in men:
1. Body weight is the single most important predictor of osteoporosis. Men with a Body Mass Index (weight/height2) lower than 19 had 20% lower bone mineral density than the rest.
2. Depression can cause osteoporosis. Men with depression have 2% lower BMD than normal men. This can be due to hormonal disturbances.
3. Dietary deficiency can cause osteoporosis. Calcium, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fibers are all important. Men whose dietary intake of calcium, protein, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin C, iron, zinc and fiber are in the lowest decile (10%) have 3-5% lower bone mineral density.
4. Other life style and medical factors such as smoking, having chronic obstructive airway diseases, gastrectomy, thyroid disease or on long-term corticosteroid treatment are also associated with osteoporosis. (see table 2)
Professor Lau concluded that osteoporosis is a major and neglected disorder in Chinese men. We recommend all men who are 65 years and older, and who have one of the above characteristics to have their bone density measured by dual X-Ray densitometry."
CUHK researchers will conduct further research on the genetic, hormonal and drug treatment aspects for osteoporosis in men, with grant from NIH.