Saturday, December 18, 2004

Causes and Prevention of Muscle Loss in Elderly Men

Sarcopenia, or loss of muscle mass and strength with increasing fatigue, is a common cause of deteriorating quality of life during the aging process, but its causes are poorly understood. Publishing in this month’s American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dr. Szulc and colleagues in Lyon, France, report on a study of 855 French men aged 45-85 years old, which evaluated relationships among age, skeletal muscle mass, differences in life style practices such as exercise, smoking, and moderate use of alcohol, and blood levels of sex hormones and vitamin D. Skeletal muscle mass, measured by DXA technique, decreased in relation to the age of the subjects, and was negatively related to smoking, lower levels of free testosterone and vitamin D, and sedentary life style. The risk of sarcopenia was not related to coffee or moderate alcohol consumption, total testosterone, or estrogen levels. Thus, age-related muscle mass might be improved by smoking cessation and modest increase in leisure time exercise, and potentially by supplementation with vitamin D and, if indicated, testosterone.

Szulc P, Duboeuf F, Marchand F, et al. Hormonal and lifestyle determinants of appendicular skeletal muscle mass in men: the MINOS study. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:496-503