Hormone therapy for menopausal women may not only help increase bone mineral density, as previous studies have suggested, it could also help improve bone structure.

According to recent research in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) these bone mass and structure benefits can persist for at least 2 years after women stop MHT treatment.

“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,” says the study’s first author, Georgios Papadakis, MD, of the Lausanne University Hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland, in a media release from Endocrine Society.

The cross-sectional study, based on data from the OsteoLaus cohort, included 1,279 women ages 50 to 80 residing in the city of Lausanne, Switzerland, who were divided into three categories: 22% were undergoing MHT during the study, 30% were past users, and 48% had never used MHT.

To measure whether MHT influenced bone health, researchers used dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans of the participants’ lumbar spine, femoral neck, and hip to assess bone mineral density. Based on the scan results, the women were assigned a Trabecular Bone Score assessing the quality of their underlying bone structure. This score can be used to predict fracture risk in postmenopausal women, the release explains.

Age and body mass index were major factors used in the study. Other variables included the history of fractures in participants, and the use of supplements such as current or past use of calcium and/or vitamin D. Blood test results for vitamin D levels from 1,204 out of the 1,279 participants were also factored into the study.

The researchers found higher Trabecular Bone Scores in current MHT users compared to past users or women who had never used MHT. All bone mass density values were significantly higher in current users compared to past users or participants who had never used MHT. Past users of the therapy exhibited higher bone mass density and a trend for higher bone microarchitecture values compared to women who had never used MHT. The researchers note that the duration of MHT had no effect on bone health, the release continues.

“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,” Papadakis states.

[Source(s): Endocrine Society, Science Daily]