Chinese Medical Journal Study Highlights Risks of Subpar Muscle Characteristics

BEIJING, Dec. 7, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Sarcopenia is a degenerative condition that tends to affect older people, and low muscle mass and strength are the main indicators. Could these indicators also be linked to the overall risk of dying?

This question has been the focus of various cohort studies, which explored the relationship between all-cause mortality and muscle mass-related measures, muscle strength, and muscle quality. However, most such studies were conducted in Western populations, and evidence from Asian populations is lacking, especially among Chinese people.

To tackle this knowledge gap, a team of scientists from China and the UK conducted a study aimed at comprehensively examining the associations of muscle mass, strength, and quality with the risk of death in China. Based on the China Kadoorie Biobank cohort, the study included 23,290 participants aged between 38 to 88 years who had no prevalent cardiovascular diseases or cancer and came from diverse economical and geographical backgrounds. Their results were published in Chinese Medical Journal on 5 June 2022.

The researchers measured muscle mass and grip strength using calibrated instruments, and calculated arm muscle quality as the ratio of grip strength to arm muscle mass. Then, participants were grouped as having either low or normal total muscle mass index, grip strength, and arm muscle quality, and both groups were compared across various characteristics via statistical regressions adjusted for age, sex, and study site.

The results showed that the short-term risk of all-cause mortality increased considerably for those with low appendicular muscle mass index, total muscle mass index, grip strength, and muscle quality, even after adjusting for sociodemographic and lifestyle factors and medical histories. Put simply, subpar muscular characteristics seem to translate to a higher risk of dying within a period of four years.

Our findings indicate the importance of maintaining normal muscle mass, strength, and quality for general Chinese adults,” remarks Associate Professor Canqing Yu of Peking University, who is the corresponding author of the study. “Grip strength and muscle mass index in the arm and trunk are of more clinical and public health relevance and should be given priority when assessing population mortality risk using different muscle metrics,” he adds.

Another interesting finding was that, among Chinese adults, muscle mass in the arms or trunk seems to be better at predicting all-cause mortality than muscle mass in the legs. “Few studies have assessed the associations between muscle mass indices in different body parts and all-cause mortality,” says Associate Professor Yu, highlighting one of the key strengths of the study.

Hopefully, the results will motivate Chinese adults to strive for good muscle mass and strength, saving lives in the process.


Title of original paper: Associations of muscle mass, strength, and quality with all-cause mortality in China: a population-based cohort study

Journal: Chinese Medical Journal


Media Contact:
Peifang Wei

SOURCE Chinese Medical Journal