In the wake of the release of the Women’s Health Initiative Study in 2002, millions of women in the US and around the World abruptly discontinued their hormone replacement therapy. Many of these women were taking hormone replacement (HRT) for bone protection. Since that time, few studies have looked at the impact of the abrupt cessation of these hormones and the incidence of hip fracture.
A study recently published in the Journal Menopause 2011;(11):1172-1177 looked at 80,955 women who were using HRT as of July 2002. They were followed through 2008 and incidence of hip fracture was recorded. In addition 54,209 of the women had a bone density scan during the study period.
The study factored in, and accounted for differences in age, race, and use of medication during the study period.
The study found that women who discontinued HRT had a 55% increase in risk of hip fracture over those women who continued HRT. The increased hip fracture risk showed up as early as 2 years after the hormones were stopped, and continued to worsen the longer the duration off of HRT.
In addition, the longer the women were off HRT, the lower their bone density was.
Observational studies have consistently reported an amazing 38%-60% reduction in the risk of fractures of the hip, wrist, and spine among women who have used HRT compared with those who have not.
This current study is very important, indicating not only that HRT is very effective in maintaining healthy bones, but that this protective effect disappears very soon after the therapy is stopped.