Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 1st 2013 Contents A32
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, July 1, 2013
NEW YORK---Women taking a combination of
hormone therapy and calcium and vitamin D tablets
after menopause were less likely to fracture their
hip than those not taking hormones or supplements,
in a new study.
"We always tell women to take calcium and vitamin
D," said Dr Michele Curtis, a women s health
researcher from the University of Texas Health Science
Center at Houston.
"At the end of the day what this study really says
is, what you thought was a good thing to do really
is a good thing to do."
Because of the known risks of hormone therapy,
one of the study s authors said women should not
take it solely to ward off fractures---but if they re
taking hormones for other reasons, it might be a
good idea to add calcium.
Although many women take calcium and vitamin
D for bone health, evidence has been mixed on how
much supplements really help over and above what
women get through their diets.
In February, the government-backed US Preventive
Services Task Force said there were no benefits but
some risk for post-menopausal women taking low-
dose vitamin D and calcium.
The group recommended against supplement use
to prevent broken bones. For the new study, Jean
Wactawski-Wende from the University at Buffalo
and her colleagues compared seven years worth of
fracture data for women in their 50s, 60s and 70s
participating in the Women s Health Initiative (WHI)
study. In one arm of the trial, participants were ran-
domly assigned to take either hormone therapy or
a drug-free placebo. In another, they took 1,000
milligrams of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D or
placebo tablets each day.
About 16,000 women were part of both the hor-
mone and vitamin trials, including 4,000 randomised
to both hormone therapy---either estrogen alone or
estrogen and progesterone---and calcium and vitamin
D.In total, 214 women had a hip fracture during the
The researchers found that women assigned to
both the hormone therapy and vitamin groups were
about half as likely to have a fracture as those in the
During an average one-year period, they calculated
that 11 out of 10,000 women taking both hormones
and calcium and vitamin D would suffer a hip fracture,
compared to 22 per 10,000 using neither.
However, the combination treatment had no effect
on women s bone mineral density---a reflection of
osteoporosis and fracture risk, Wactawski-Wende
and her team reported in the journal Menopause.
Some previous studies have suggested that vitamin
D may protect against fractures less by strengthening
bones than by improving muscle strength and thereby
reducing falls, but others have not found the same
Hormone therapy has become less common since
WHI data linked hormone use to heart disease, stroke
and breast cancer, though it s still considered the
most effective treatment for some symptoms of
menopause, such as hot flashes.
Curtis, who wasn t involved in the new research,
said she thinks the pendulum initially swung too far
away from hormone therapy, and that doctors are
coming to realise it may still help some women.
"I think ultimately people have become aware that
maybe it s not the placebo for getting older that
some may have perceived it was being marketed as,
but that maybe there are benefits for it," she told
Because of the risks, women shouldn t take
hormone therapy just to prevent fractures,
"The major indication for taking hormone therapy
is for management of moderate to severe menopausal
symptoms," she told Reuters Health.
However, "those women who are on hormone
therapy for vasomotor symptoms, who may also get
the benefit of prevention of fractures, should consider
supplementing with calcium at the same time to get
the best benefit," she said.
Menopause, online June 24, 2013.
vitamin D for
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
Hormone therapy, calcium
may lower fracture risk
Links Archive June 30th 2013 July 2nd 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page