DOCTOR'S VIEW ARCHIVE

Bone Up On Estrogen...Women's Health

BETHESDA & ANN ARBOR--Osteoporosis can be a serious condition resulting in porous, fragile bone and is particularly common in postmenopausal women. Women with these fragile are at risk for breaking (fracturing) bones, which can lead to serious complications-especially for elderly women who can suffer disabling fractures of the hips and spine.

Bone mineral density testing can be used to document the degree of osteoporosis and estimate the risk of bone fracture. Bone mineral density rapidly decreases in women within 5 years of menopause due to estrogen deficiency.

Researchers have been studying the effects of estrogen replacement for postmenopausal women in two large multicenter studies-- one centered the National Institutes of Health (called the Postmenopausal Estrogen/Progestin Interventions--PEPI Trial), the other centered at Parke-Davis Pharmaceuticals Research (called the Continuous Hormones as Replacement Therapy--CHART study). Results of these studies, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association November 6, 1996, document definite beneficial effects of increased bone mineral density for women taking estrogen replacement after menopause compared to those who did not.

These two important studies are still ongoing and will help to define the optimal dosing of estrogen and progesterone for postmenopausal women. It is anticipated that further long-term results of these and other studies will confirm that estrogen replacement not only increases bone density, but also decreases the rate of bone fractures.

MedicineNet editors encourage women who are entering menopause to discuss these issues with their doctors.

For more information, please visit MedicineNet.com's Osteoporosis Center in the Diseases and Conditions area.


Last Editorial Review: 8/16/2002