Aging reduces bone strength. This matters because each year, 30 percent of individuals over the age of 65 suffer falls, which can lead to bone fractures. Researchers recently set out to discover if the age of menopause onset alters the fracture risk in healthy postmenopausal women receiving hormone therapy, calcium/vitamin D supplements or a combination of both. More than 21,000 women were studied and were divided by age into three groups: under 40 years, 40 to 49, and 50 and older.
In the study, women who reached menopause before the age of 40 had a significantly higher risk for fracture than the older women, regardless of the treatment intervention. The effect of menopause age on fracture risk was not altered by hormone therapy or calcium supplements. Researchers concluded that early age of menopause appeared to be an independent contributor to postmenopausal fracture risk.
One idea of why younger menopausal women may be at greater risk for fractures is a longer duration of decreased estrogen that they experience compared to those who reach menopause later. However, the researchers showed that there was an increased fracture risk even for those who were treated with hormone therapy.
All research has limitations and individuals vary in their natural bone density and overall risk of falling. However, based on these findings, it may be worth a conversation with your doctor if you reached menopause prior to the age of 40.
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