Hormone replacement therapy in middle-aged women can reduce the risk of hip fracture by as much as 20% in the first decade after menopause, according to a study of more than 23,000 Swedish women published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The study, which confirms and expands upon similar findings from earlier studies, found that the women who benefited most from the treatment were those who were under 60 when they began and who were taking a potent form of estrogen hormones.
In the United States, as many as a third to half of all menopausal and post-menopausal women receive estrogen replacement therapy.
The study involved 23,246 Swedish women tracked through medical records between 1977 and 1983. Approximately a third of them took estrogen-progesterone combinations; the others took various types of estrogens in potent and weaker forms.
Overall, the treatment cut the risk of hip fracture by one-fifth from what is expected among women not taking replacement hormones. Women taking potent estrogens, such as estradiol compounds or conjugated estrogens, were half as likely as others to have a hip fracture.