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Jan 22, 2015 07:05 PM EST

Strong Link Between Menopausal Symptoms, Bone Health


There is a strong association between menopausal symptoms and bone health, according to a recent study.

Researchers at the University of Buffalo found that those who experience moderate to severe hot flashes and night sweats during menopause tend to have lower bone mineral density and higher rates of hip fracture than peers with no menopausal symptoms.

"We knew that during menopause, about 60 percent of women experience vasomotor symptoms (VMS), such as hot flashes and night sweats. They are among the most bothersome symptoms of menopause and can last for many years," Jean Wactawski-Wende, co-author of the study, said in a statement. "It also was known that osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become structurally weak and more likely to break, afflicts 30 percent of all postmenopausal women in the United States and Europe, and that at least 40 percent of that group will sustain one or more fragility fractures in their remaining lifetime."

What researchers did not know was whether VMS are associated with reductions in bone mineral density or increased fracture incidence.

For the study, researchers examined data from more than 23,500 clinical trial participants, aged 50 to 79 years old, who were not then using menopausal hormone therapy nor assigned to use it during the trial. Baseline and follow-up bone density examinations were conducted in nearly 5,000 of these women.

They found that women who experience VMS will lose bone density at a faster rate and nearly double their risk of hip fracture. He serious public health risk this poses is underscored by previous research that found an initial fracture poses an 86 percent risk for a second new fracture.

"Women at risk of fracture may want to engage in behaviors that protect their bones including increasing their physical activity and ensuring they have adequate intakes of calcium and vitamin D," Wactawski-Wende added.

The findings are detailed in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

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