Endocrine parameters in association with bone mineral accrual in young female vocational ballet dancers



Less is known on bone mass gains in dancers involved in vocational dance training. The present study found that, as young vocational dancers progress on their professional training, their bone health remains consistently lower compared to non-exercising controls. Endocrine mechanisms do not seem to explain these findings.


Little is known on bone mass development in dancers involved in vocational training. The aim of the present study was to model bone mineral content (BMC) accruals and to determine whether circulating levels of oestrogens, growth hormone (GH), and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-1) explain differences in bone mass gains between vocational dance students and matched controls.


The total of 67 vocational female dancers (VFDs) and 68 aged-matched controls (12.1 ± 1.9 years and 12.7 ± 2.0 years at baseline, respectively) were followed for two consecutive years (34 VFD and 31 controls remained in the study for the full duration). BMC was evaluated annually at impact [femoral neck (FN); lumbar spine (LS)] and non-impact sites (forearm) using DXA. Anthropometry, age at menarche (questionnaire), and hormone serum concentrations (immunoradiometric assays) were also assessed for the same period.


VFD demonstrated consistently reduced body weight (p < 0.001) and BMC at all three anatomical sites (p < 0.001) compared to controls throughout the study period. Menarche, body weight, GH, and IGF-1 were significantly associated with bone mass changes over time (p < 0.05) but did not explain group differences in BMC gains at impact sites (p > 0.05). However, body weight did explain the differences between groups in terms of BMC gains at the forearm (non-impact site).


Two consecutive years of vocational dance training revealed that young female dancers demonstrate consistently lower bone mass compared to controls at both impact and non-impact sites. The studied endocrine parameters do not seem to explain group differences in terms of bone mass gains at impact sites.

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Correspondence to Tânia Amorim.

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All participants provided signed informed consent according to the Declaration of Helsinki. The study was approved by the ethics committee of the Regional Administration of Health of Lisbon, Portugal (Proc.063/CES/INV/201).

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Amorim, T., Metsios, G.S., Flouris, A.D. et al. Endocrine parameters in association with bone mineral accrual in young female vocational ballet dancers. Arch Osteoporos 14, 46 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11657-019-0596-z

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  • Bone health
  • Children
  • Endocrinology
  • Performance
  • Training
  • BMC