Background: Aging-related sarcopenia is characterized by a loss of muscle mass and strength and increased fatigability. However, studies of its determinants in elderly men are scarce.
Objective: We investigated risk factors for sarcopenia in a large cohort of men.
Design: We analyzed 845 men aged 45-85 y who belonged to the MINOS cohort. Lifestyle factors (physical activity, tobacco smoking, alcohol intake, caffeine intake) were evaluated by using a standardized questionnaire. Appendicular skeletal muscle mass (ASM) was estimated by using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. The relative appendicular skeletal muscle mass index (RASM) was calculated as ASM/body height(2.3). Apparent free testosterone concentration (AFTC) and free testosterone index (FTI) were calculated on the basis of concentrations of total testosterone and sex hormone-binding globulin.
Results: RASM decreased with age (r = -0.29, P < 0.0001). Current smokers had lower RASM than did subjects who never smoked (-3.2%; P < 0.003). RASM increased with the intensity of physical activity at work (P for trend < 0.001). Men who participated in regular exercise during leisure time had 2.2% higher RASM than did those who did not (P < 0.03). Men whose values for AFTC, FTI, or 25-hydroxycholecalciferol [25(OH)D] were >2 SDs below the mean for young men had significantly lower RASM than did men with higher values. Men with sarcopenia, defined as the lowest quartile of RASM in the studied cohort (<6.32 kg/m(2.3)), were significantly older than men with normal RASM, weighed significantly less, smoked more, and spent significantly less time on leisure-time activities. Sarcopenic men also had lower values for testosterone, AFTC, FTI, and 25(OH)D.
Conclusion: In elderly men, low physical activity, tobacco smoking, thinness, low testosterone (AFTC and FTI), and decreased 25(OH)D concentrations are risk factors for sarcopenia.