The hip fracture risk of farmers is lower than the general population , according to a study in Sweden, one of the few countries which tracks hip fractures through a national registry, making it possible to assess how hip fracture risk across the country according to occupation, economic status, level of education, latitude, and urban versus rural living.

Hip fracture risk is known to be correlated to physical activity, but that's one of the variables which the registries can't accurately track, since self-reported surveys about exercise are as useless in epidemiology as they are in food and various hazard claims.

But occupations are empirical, no one claims to be a farmer, and farming is an occupation which is characterized by regular, long-term outdoor physical activity. Looking at the hip fracture incidence of all men and women aged 40 years or more in Sweden between 1987-2002, they found that there were 100,083 individuals who sustained a hip fracture. Of these, 4, 175 were farmers. For male farmers the risk of a hip fracture was 14% lower compared to other occupations, adjusted for age. When also adjusted for rural status of residence, the risk reduction was still 15% lower. However, when also adjusted for income, education and latitude the effect was even more marked -- at 39% lower risk.

For both men and women, the hip fracture risk rose with age - everything gets riskier with age - but also with low income, low education, higher latitude, and urban location. For women, being a farmer was not associated with a significant difference in hip fracture risk.

Lead author, Dr. Helena Johansson of the Centre for Metabolic Bone Diseases, University of Sheffield Medical School, UK, stated, "We need to be concerned about hip fractures as they are the most serious and disabling osteoporosis-related fractures. Given the many, complex factors that affect fracture risk, it is not possible to pinpoint a single variable that is associated with lower hip fracture risk. However, these findings are interesting in that they suggest that a lifetime of outdoor, physical activity may be a positive factor when it comes to hip fracture risk. "

Look for exercise videos that simulate milking cows and driving tractors, books on farmer's diets and for the Centers for Disease Control to create a website advocating a test warning you that you might have pre-agriculture disease.

Source: International Osteoporosis Foundation