A study by the University of Colorado has found that frequently flying increases chances in developing osteoporosis due to sleep deprivation from adjusting to different time zones

In the UAE, a large section of the population is made up of high flying young expatriates. With the UAE centrally located and known as a business hub, many are frequent fliers. The continuous limitation on good sleep and the disturbances to the body’s internal clock caused by these white collar jobs can however be one of the reasons for bone loss in young adults.

A study by the University of Colorado released at the Endocrine Society’s 99th Annual Meeting in Orlando found that younger men, who were sleep deprived, had greater reduction in levels of P1NP (a marker of bone formation in blood) at 27% compared to 18% in older men. Circadian disruption is the disparity between a body’s internal clock and the external environment that arises when a person’s routine is not aligned with the 24 hour clock. However the CTX levels or the bone resorption marker was the same indicating that the old bone breaks down without a new bone forming.

injured Knee Joint

Injured Knee Joint

“When the old bone breaks down and no new bone forms in its place the bone loss window can lead to osteoporosis.  In osteoporosis bones become weak and brittle and this hereby increases the risk of fractures,” said Dr. Ottmar Gorchewsky, Specialist Orthopedic Surgeon specialized in arthroscopic surgery and shoulder surgery at Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery in Dubai. “The study shows that sporadic sleep patterns affect bone metabolism quite early in life – especially at a time when bone growth is essential for skeletal health longevity.”

Participants who volunteered for the study fell asleep each day four hours later than they did the previous day to create a 28 hour day. The volunteers were monitored over a three week period. They also slept for under 6 hours per day to mimic the effects of those who work split shift jobs or have jet lag due to accruing frequent flyer miles for work.

“The UAE is a cosmopolitan country and is a business hub between Europe and Asia. Many expatriates hold senior positions that require them to travel frequently for work. However, this lifestyle can have serious implications for the future leading to conditions such as osteoporosis and making them more susceptible to fractures,” said Dr. Ottmar. “In order to ensure optimal skeletal system health, young executives should ensure they get ample rest. It is important to put health first to avoid long term complications.”

 

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