The relationship between boron, stress hormones and bone markers in humans of different ages, life style and health status
Chummun, N. H.
Hormones (sex hormones, thyroxine, cortisol and parathyroid), cytokines (interleukins-1 and 2 and tumour necrosis factor), life style (exercise, smoking and reproductive history), nutrition (calcium, meat, vegetables, vitamin D, caffeine and alcohol) and diseases (diabetes mellitus, malabsorption and thyrotoxicosis) affect bone mass. The loss of calcium, phosphate and magnesium from bone makes it weaker which enhances the incidence of bone diseases such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis and increases the risks of fractures causing pain, sufferings and even death particularly in older females. Treatment of these diseases and the 200,000 related fractures costs the National Health Service over £940 millions annually (National Osteoporosis Society, 1998/1999). \ud \ud The multifactorial aetiology of osteoporosis and difficulties in deciding the most effective treatment to suit individual sufferer makes preventative measures more suitable in lowering the incidence of this disease and therefore reduces human sufferings, cost and mortality. \ud \ud Boron, a ubiquitous element in soil, water, ground vegetables and fruits modulates sex hormones in animals. Its role in human is unclear and inconclusive. Boron prolonged the half-life of 17(3 oestradiol and delayed the loss of bone mass particularly in post-menopausal women with low magnesium (Neilsen, 1990) and increased absorption and retention of calcium, phosphate and magnesium during vitamin D deficiency (Hunt, 1994). Excessively high level of boron suppressed sex steroids and increased the loss of bone minerals (Benderdour et al, 1998). Cortisol reduced bone mass (Delany et al, 1995) but the effects of catecholamines on bone are largely undetermined.\ud \ud This study aims to assess the relationship between boron, cortisol, catecholamines, serotonin and bone turnover in relation to age, gender, life style, nutrition, reproductive history and health status in men and women of 3 age groups, mainly nurses and to make recommendations, if appropriate, to improve bone mass or reduce the rate of bone loss. \ud \ud 172 male and female volunteers were placed in respective groups aged 11-20, 20-40, over 40 years old and all the pregnant subjects in one group. Early morning urine was analysed for calcium and magnesium by flame spectrophotometry, phosphate, hydroxyproline and creatinine by spectrophotometry, boron by inductive coupled plasma spectrophotometry and cortisol, adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin by high performance liquid chromatography. Information about each subject's life style, nutrition and health was obtained using a questionnaire. Data were processed and analysed using excel and minitab packages and only significance level at P<0.05 or less was accepted using ANOVA, t-test and Pearson's correlation coefficient.\ud \ud There were positive trends between urinary levels of boron and calcium and significant correlation (P<0.05) between boron and phosphate in all the male subjects particularly in M20-40, suggesting that these subjects would be more prone to bone loss. In addition, the levels of boron were significantly higher (PO.05) in post-menopausal compared to pre-menopausal subjects, in F<20 low alcohol drinkers compared to M<20, during stress in M20-40 compared to F20-40, in F>40 with the history of osteoporosis compared to those in M>40 as well as in F20-40 heavy smokers compared to those in M20-40 and in subjects taking the contraceptive pill. Age, exercise, hysterectomy, HRT, vegetables consumption and vitamin supplements did not significantly influence urinary boron levels. Heavy alcohol consumption, greater stress, heavy smoking and family history of osteoporosis increase urinary boron levels and this might enhance bone damage, particularly in post-menopausal subjects.\ud \ud Urinary cortisol, adrenaline and dopamine levels were raised (P<0.05) in F>40 and M>40 and correlated with an increased calcium excretion which suggest that the increased catecholamine levels in these subjects may promote calcium loss and compromise ageing bone. Regular intake of alcohol above 1500 ml of beer, 750 ml of wine and 150 ml of spirits per week, heavy smoking of over 10 cigarettes or 3 ounces of tobacco per day, eating less than 3 vegetables, not taking weight bearing exercises at least 3 times per week and a lack of multivitamin supplements during puberty and middle age, increased bone turnover and may predispose bone to fractures. Male nurses were at a greater risk (PO.05) than the females from increased turnover of phosphate, magnesium, calcium and hydroxyproline as these also positively correlated with either boron, adrenaline or cortisol. The levels of urinary catecholamines were significantly (PO.05) higher in M20-40 compared to F20-40 who were stressed and suggested either male subjects had poor coping mechanism or that female subjects had a different response mechanism. The correlation between boron, cortisol, adrenaline and phosphate in the male subjects as a whole but particularly in M20-40, in whom adrenaline also correlated with hydroxyproline, suggest that these male subjects are at greater risks of bone damage and poor health.\ud \ud Improved dietary intakes of calcium, vegetables and boron and a healthier life style of reduced alcohol and smoking with more weight-bearing exercises could significantly reduced bone loss and therefore prevent osteoporosis. In addition, male nurses should minimise stress levels not only to protect bone loss but for a better health.