Former Male Elite Athletes Have Lower Incidence of Fragility Fractures than Expected.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


PURPOSE: Physical activity during growth is associated with high peak bone mass and may, as a result, prevent osteoporosis later in life. It is therefore possible that athletic activity during youth could lower the risk of fragility fractures in old age. Though, this is currently unclear and, based on evaluations of surrogate skeletal end point variables in former athletes, we hypothesized that this is not the case. METHODS: In a retrospective matched controlled cohort study design, we calculated the lifetime incidence of fractures from the results of a mailed questionnaire sent to 709 former male elite athletes with a mean age of 69 years (range 50-93), who had given up regular sports activity a mean 34 years (range 1-63) ago, and to 1368 matched controls. Estimates of time to first fracture were done by Poisson regression, and for analyses of covariance Cox Regression were used. Data are presented as rate ratios (RR) with 95% confidence interval (95% CI). RESULTS: After retirement from sports, the former athletes had a RR of 0.70 (0.52, 0.93) for any fracture, a RR of 0.50 (0.27, 0.89) for any fragility fracture, and a RR of 0.29 (0.09, 0.74) for distal radius fractures. When adjusting for occupation, smoking, alcohol, disease, and medication the hazard ratio (HR) of any fracture after active career was 0.73 (95% CI 0.54, 0.99) and the HR of any fragility fracture after age 50 was 0.63 (95% CI 0.35, 1.16). CONCLUSION: Elite sports during adolescence are in men associated with a lower fracture risk after career end. The former athletes were overall healthier which may have influenced the results.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Orthopedics
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-410
JournalMedicine & Science in Sports & Exercise
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch

Related research output

Magnus Tveit, 2013, Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University. 168 p.

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