Does primary lactase deficiency reduce bone mineral density in postmenopausal women? A systematic review and meta-analysis

Y. Treister-Goltzman, M. Friger, R. Peleg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Summary: Postmenopausal osteoporosis is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. The role of primary lactase deficiency (PLD) in its development is not clear. This meta-analysis showed that PLD is a risk factor for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. These women need special attention in terms of screening for osteoporosis and its prevention. Introduction: Postmenopausal osteoporosis is an important predictor of bone fractures. The purpose of the study was to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of association of PLD and bone mineral density (BMD) in postmenopausal women. Methods: The electronic databases PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science were searched over the course of July 2017 for any date of publication without language limitation. Studies were included in the meta-analysis if the diagnosis of PLD was made by genetic testing or H-2 breath tests and the diagnosis of osteoporosis was made by a modern reliable method for BMD measurement. Two investigators conducted a comprehensive, independent review of all the papers. Five of the studies initially identified met the inclusion criteria. We used MOOSE guidelines for abstracting data and assessing data quality and validity. Meta-analysis was performed using the random effects model. Results: Five case-control studies with 2223 participants and 763 lactase-deficient cases fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Meta-analysis showed a significantly higher bone density Z-score in absorbers (mean difference 0.20, CI (0.14–0.27), P = 0.000), with no significant heterogeneity among the studies. Moreover, the Z-score in the vast majority of the measured sites (femoral head, femoral neck, lumbar spine, radius, and Ward’s triangle) was significantly higher in absorbers. There was no significant overall difference in BMD in g/cm2 between absorbers and non-absorbers, but a significantly higher BMD using g/cm2 was observed in absorbers in the total hip site. Conclusions: Postmenopausal women with PLD had lower Z-scores at most anatomic sites compared to healthy controls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2399-2407
Number of pages9
JournalOsteoporosis International
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • Bone mineral density
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Postmenopausal osteoporosis
  • Primary lactase deficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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