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Sleep apnea/osteoporosis study finds “increased” health risk


A recently published study may have found a connection between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and osteoporosis, marking yet another health condition potentially linked to sleep apnea.

A great deal of sleep apnea research focuses on the connection between OSA and cardiovascular and diabetes-related conditions. This osteoporosis study, however, set out to see it there was a connection between sleep apnea and the skeletal system. (Osteoporosis is a health condition that causes bones to decrease in mass and i.e., become weaker, leading to an increased risk of breaks and fractures.)

Details of the sleep apnea/osteoporosis study

The sleep apnea/osteoporosis study, published in the pages of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in April, concluded that “people diagnosed with OSA are at increased risk for subsequent osteoporosis.”1

The study tracked 1,377 patients with sleep apnea against more than 20,000 who didn’t have OSA, looking specifically for the development of osteoporosis, and taking all samples randomly from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance database.

At the end of a six-year period, the findings showed that the OSA patients were at “2.74 times the risk of osteoporosis than patients without OSA” after adjusting for gender, age, geographical location and the presence of other health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, stroke and obesity.

The study also found that patients who were older and female “had a higher risk for osteoporosis than their younger and male counterparts.”

The sleep apnea/osteoporosis study: What’s it mean?

In a news release announcing the study, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism authors were careful to point out that the study only “noted an association between sleep apnea and osteoporosis” and “does not prove that one causes the other.”

However, Dr. Kai-Jen Tien of Taiwan’s Chi Mei Medical Center, a co-author of the study, still warned about the connection suggested by the sleep apnea/osteoporosis study results.

“When sleep apnea periodically deprives the body of oxygen, it can weaken bones and raise the risk of osteoporosis,” said Dr. Tien in the news release. “The progressive condition can lead to bone fractures, increased medical costs, reduced quality of life and even death.”

“As more and more people are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea worldwide, both patients and health care providers need to be aware of the heightened risk of developing other conditions,” Dr. Tien added. “We need to pay more attention to the relationship between sleep apnea and bone health so we can identify strategies to prevent osteoporosis.”

What do you think about this sleep apnea/osteoporosis study? As always, we invite you to share your thoughts in the comments! Please note: These comments are intended as a means for sleep apnea patients to interact with each other. This is not an official venue for ResMed customer service or questions. Please direct ResMed customer service inquiries here.

Sleep apnea/osteoporosis study: References

  1. Chen YL, Weng SF, Shen YC, Chou CW, Yang CY, Wang JJ, Tien KJ. “Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Risk of Osteoporosis: A Population-Based Cohort Study in Taiwan.” J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Apr 15:jc20141718. [Epub ahead of print]. Retrieved from (accessed May 2, 2014).

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Always something. Thanks for the information.

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