Hormone Therapy Reduces Bone Resorption but not Bone Formation in Postmenopausal Athletes

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Introduction: Independently, hormone therapy and exercise have well-established protective effects on bone parameters. The combined effects of hormone therapy and exercise, however, are less clear. We, therefore, examined the effects of hormone therapy on bone turnover markers in postmenopausal women undergoing regular high intensity exercise.

Methods: In a randomised, double blind study, postmenopausal athletes competing at Masters level, received either hormone therapy (50 μg transdermal oestradiol, 5 mg MPA, n = 8) or placebo (n = 7) for 20 weeks. Women were tested before and after treatment for plasma concentrations of oestradiol, FSH, LH, and serum bone formation marker -osteocalcin (OC); and urine bone resorption markers-pyridinoline (PYD) and deoxypyridinoline (DPD).

Results: As a result of treatment with hormone therapy there were significant reductions in levels of FSH (73.3 ± 13.7 to 48.6 ± 10.5 mmol/L, p = 0.01) and bone resorption markers (PYD, 81.9 ± 7.7 to 57.8 ± 3.7 nmol/mmol Cr, p = 0.001, and DPD, 18.5 ± 3.1 to 11.8 ± 2.1 nmol/mmol Cr, p = 0.01). Oestradiol and bone formation markers were not significantly altered as a result of hormone therapy. There were no changes to any variables with placebo treatment.

Conclusion: Hormone therapy reduced bone resorption, but not bone formation, in postmenopausal athletes. These favorable reductions in bone turnover; therefore, provide an effective treatment in combination with high intensity exercise to further reduce the subsequent risk of osteoporosis and associated fractures.

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