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Selective Mortality in Middle-aged American Women With Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis (DISH)

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2018
10 pages
This study examined a mortality sample of White American male and female skeletons to illustrate a simple means of identifying skeletal conditions associated with an increased risk of dying relatively early in adulthood and to determine whether males and females with Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis (DISH) displayed the same general age-specific pattern of mortality.
Age-specific probability distributions for DISH were generated from 416 White Americans who died from the 1980s to the present, and whose remains were donated to the University of Tennessee Forensic Anthropology Center. The age-specific frequency of DISH was analyzed using an empirical smoothing algorithm. Doing so allowed for the identification of deviations (i.e., local maxima) from monotonically increasing age-specific probabilities. The study found that in females (N = 199), there was a peak in the frequency of individuals with DISH around 60 years of age, where 37.0 percent of the individuals had DISH. It was matched only by the frequency (38.7 percent) in the oldest females, those over 85 years old. In contrast, DISH frequencies for males (N = 217) increased monotonically with advancing age, reaching 62.5 percent in the greater than or equal to 86 years age group. There was an association between DISH and high body weight in women, particularly those who died before they reached the age of 75. Early-onset DISH in White American women was associated with an increased risk of dying indicated by a local maximum in the probability curve. Should this finding be replicated in additional mortality samples and the reason DISH is associated with early death is established, beyond being heavy, this radiologically visible ossification of the spine could be a potential component of health-monitoring programs for middle-aged women. 2 figures, 2 tables, and 94 references

Date Published: August 1, 2018