Lausanne, Switzerland—Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) not only improves bone-mineral density, according to a new study, but can also enhance bone mass and structure.

That’s according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

“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, MD, of the Lausanne University Hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland.

For the cross-sectional study, researchers employed the OsteoLaus cohort consisting of 1,279 women, ages 50 to 80, living in the city of Lausanne, Switzerland. Participants included three groups: 22% who were undergoing MHT during the study, 30% who were past users, and 48% who had never used MHT.

To assess bone mineral density (BMD), researchers used dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scans of the participants’ lumbar spine, femoral neck, and hip. The women then were assigned a Trabecular Bone Score, which assesses quality of underlying bone structure and can be used to predict fracture risk in postmenopausal women.

In addition to age and body mass index, other study 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.

Results indicate higher Trabecular Bone Scores in current MHT users compared to past users or women who had never been on the therapy. In fact, all bone-mass density values were significantly higher in current users compared to past users or participants who had never used MHT, according to the study.

Furthermore, past users of MHT showed higher bone-mass density and suggestion of higher bone microarchitecture values compared to women who had never used MHT, with researchers explaining that the duration of MHT appeared to have no effect on bone health.

“MHT is associated with bone microarchitecture preservation, as assessed by TBS,” study authors conclude. “The effect of MHT on TBS and BMD persists at least two years after withdrawal.

“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 added.

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