Alternative Treatments to Hormone Replacement Therapy for Osteoporosis Sufferers with Fractures

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The changes that occur in women's bodies during menopause can dramatically change the way in which a women lives her life and may make her more vulnerable physically, as a normal part of aging. Many women take hormone replacement therapy as a way to combat this type of natural aging and also to try and reduce the effects of menopausal and postmenopausal side effects. Unfortunately, hormone replacement therapy can come with many side effects of its own, even if it does decrease the severity of hot flashes and can combat osteoporosis. Recent research has tried to investigate the frequency of osteoporosis diagnosis in women who have stopped taking hormone replacement therapy and have had minor bone fractures as a result.

The study was carried out at a single medical center in Edmonton, Alberta in the USA and researchers interviewed 112 female patients, all of whom were over the age of 40. The interviews were conducted for those patients at the clinic who had suffered from a traumatic fractures of the distal radius or ulna from April 1997 to March 1998 and from January 1999 to February 1999. The history of hormone replacement therapy use and osteoporosis treatment was noted during all the interviews.

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The time between the fracture and the interview taking place differed between patients, for some it was six months while for others three years. However on average it was 1 year between fracture and interview for most of the women. Although none of them had been given osteoporosis treatment in the past, 44 out of the 112 women had suffered from previous fractures and 17 of them had occurred in the wrist, vertebrae or hips. Another 32 of the patients had been given some osteoporosis treatment before, while a further 24 women undertook post-fracture osteoporosis follow-up without it resulting in treatment. After the fracture in question, 42 of the 112 women were noted as taking either hormone replacement therapy or bisphosphonate.

The results of the interviews showed that only 50% of the women in the survey had been given some form of osteoporosis follow up. Even though this percentage did have some type of follow-up treatment, the interviews indicated that most of the patients had no change to their medication as a result and that included hormone replacement therapy.

This research highlights the problems surround osteoporosis diagnosis and the likelihood of recurring fractures in those who do not receive the proper treatment for this condition. Although hormone replacement therapy is one treatment for this problem and it is known to be effective for postmenopausal women, the related side effects of hormone replacement therapy are known to be an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers. As hormone replacement therapy is known to be a dangerous treatment for osteoporosis, more research needs to be undertaken to find another treatment which is effective and yet does not pose similar health risks.