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Oestrogen reduces risk of fracture after menopause

From the end of the 1970s to the late 1990s there was a significant reduction in the incidence of hip and distal forearm fractures among Oslo women in the early phase after menopause. Part of this decline can be explained by the large increase in the use of hormone replacement therapy after menopause in the same period, a new study shows.

The study is a collaboration between the University of Oslo, Aker University Hospital and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

Half of reduction in fractures may be due to hormone replacement therapy
From the end of the 1970s to the late 1990s the hip fracture rate dropped by 39 percent, while the distal forearm fracture rate fell by 33 percent among women aged 50-64 years. A similar decline was not registered among older women or among men.

- Interestingly, use of post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy increased greatly in the same period. It is shown that treatment with oestrogen reduces the risk of osteoporosis and fracture. Based on data from the Oslo Health Studies, we have estimated that almost half of the decline in fracture rates among women in the early phase after menopause in Oslo can be caused by hormone replacement therapy, says Professor Haakon Meyer, at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and University of Oslo.

Could cause increased risk of serious illness
In recent years, however, the use of post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy has been significantly reduced. This is the result of new studies that have shown that such treatment leads to increased risk of breast cancer and may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

- Future monitoring of fracture frequency in the population is therefore important to examine whether this has resulted in a new increase in fracture frequency, says Meyer.

Collaborative study
The study is a collaboration between the University of Oslo, Aker University Hospital and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
Haakon E. Meyer, Cathrine M. Lofthus, Anne Johanne Søgaard, Jan A. Falch. Change in the use of hormone replacement therapy and the incidence of fracture in Oslo. Osteoporos International 2008 June 19. [Epub ahead of print]. DOI 10.1007/s00198-008-0679-y

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