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.