Black men more likely to suffer some osteoarthritis, differences in women weight-related, research shows

CHAPEL HILL -- Older black men in the United States are about 33 percent more likely than white men here to suffer hip osteoarthritis, a new University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study shows. Weight differences account for comparable disparities in the degenerative condition in women.

"We also found about the same proportion of African-American men having knee osteoarthritis as white men, but blacks were 65 percent more likely to have it in both knees and faced almost three times the risk of more severe knee osteoarthritis," said Dr. Joanne Jordan, research associate professor of medicine at the UNC-CH School of Medicine. "We're not sure why they get it worse. It might have something to do with physical demands of what they did at work, but none of the things we looked at seemed to explain the differences."

Black women were about twice as likely as white women to develop the condition, to get it in both knees and to experience greater severity, the study showed. Those differences, however, appeared to result from black women being heavier for their height than white women, said scientists, who controlled for obesity, age and education.

The study, being presented at an American College of Rheumatology meeting in Philadelphia this week, involved 3,145 randomly selected people participating in the Johnston County (N.C.) Osteoarthritis Project, a U.S. government-sponsored study that for the first time includes many black subjects. Most investigators consider the research to be the most definitive study ever done on racial differences in osteoarthritis.

Jordan is a member of the Thurston Arthritis Research Center at UNC-CH. Others involved in the study were Dr. Jordan Renner, associate professor of radiology, and Anca Dragomir and Gheorghe Luta, doctoral students in epidemiology and biostatistics, both at the UNC-CH School of Public Health.

A third of study participants, all over age 45, were black, and almost two-thirds were wome

Contact: David Williamson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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