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The Women’s Health Initiative is a large ongoing set of studies looking at factors that influence risks of heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis in women after menopause. This study, which was published in Menopause, used data from more than 68,000 participants that was collected during two previous trials:
Women in both trials were monitored for hip fractures for an average of just over seven years.
The researchers found an interaction between hormone therapy and the supplemental calcium and vitamin D:
“Our further investigation of the Women’s Health Initiative data shows that calcium plus D—[which], by itself, may not be of statistically proven benefit for fracture prevention—may have a significant effect when used with hormone therapy,” the study’s authors said.
Since the end of these trials in 2005, women have been much less likely to use hormone therapy after menopause and when they do they often use lower amounts. These findings can’t tell us for sure whether or to what degree calcium plus D might add to the bone-protective effects of low-dose hormone therapy, but they do suggest that estrogen and calcium plus D may work best together. They also suggest that calcium plus D in these amounts may not protect postmenopausal women who don’t choose to use hormone therapy.
If you are considering hormone therapy as a treatment for osteoporosis, here are some things to keep in mind:
(Menopause 2013;21: DOI: 10.1097/gme.0b013e3182963901)