Taken for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, previous research has already revealed the benefits of menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) on bone mineral density. However this is the first study to show that MHT can also improve bone mass and structure.
Carried out by a team from the Lausanne University Hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland, the cross-sectional study used data from the OsteoLaus cohort, which consisted of 1,279 women ages 50 to 80 living in Lausanne.
Using these scans the researchers then assigned each participant with a Trabecular Bone Score, which assessed the quality of their underlying bone structure, and can also be used to predict risk of bone fractures in postmenopausal women.
The team also took into account participants' age, body mass index, history of fractures, and the use of supplements such as calcium and/or vitamin D, with blood tests taken for vitamin D levels from 1,204 out of the 1,279 participants.
"When used in the right context, specifically in postmenopausal women younger than 60 years old for whom the benefits outweigh risks, menopausal hormonal therapy is effective for both the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis," said the study's first author, Georgios Papadakis, "Women at menopause should take note of this study, because its results can help optimize the use of menopausal hormone treatment in women at risk of osteoporosis," he added.
Osteoporosis is a progressive condition in which bones become weaker and are more likely to fracture or break. Menopause, which often occurs when a woman is in her 40s or 50s, can significantly speed up this bone loss.