Women who begin taking estrogen within five years of menopause and continue for the rest of their lives substantially decrease their risk of almost all fractures, a new study concludes.
The report, in this week’s Annals of Internal Medicine, expands on other studies that have associated hormone replacement therapy with preventing the brittle and broken hips and wrists caused by osteoporosis.
“Our results suggest estrogen should be initiated early in menopause and continued indefinitely,” said Jane Cauley, the study’s lead author and an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. Women who began taking estrogen early and continued to take it showed a 50 percent reduction in the risk of all non-spinal fractures and a 71 percent decrease in the risk of broken hips and wrists. Those who started the hormone therapy later, but continued treatment, showed a 25 percent drop in the risk of all nonspinal fractures.
According to the study, women who stopped taking estrogen - even after taking it for more than 10 years - showed no significant decrease in the risk of fractures.