Ladies take note! If you hit menopause before the age of 40, you may be at higher risk of fracture, even after taking calcium and vitamin D supplements, a new study has found. For years, calcium and vitamin D have been touted for their abilities to increase bone mineral density. Hormone therapy is also recognised for its ability to help ward off osteoporosis.
The research evaluated the effectiveness of calcium, vitamin D, and/or hormones in offsetting the higher fracture risks for women experiencing early menopause. Based on an evaluation of nearly 22,000 women included in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) trials, women aged younger than 40 years already in menopause had significantly higher risks for fracture than women who experienced menopause between the ages of 40 and 49 or after 50, regardless of treatment intervention.
Although the findings are disappointing for women experiencing an early onset of menopause, the study opens the door to a number of questions and possibilities. For example, women with early menopause are candidates for hormone therapy until at least the average age of menopause (52 years) to reduce the risks of heart disease, osteoporosis, and cognitive and mood changes.
It is possible that earlier initiation of treatment for those with early menopause with calcium, vitamin D or hormones; more appropriate dosing of young women, longer duration of treatment; or longer duration of follow-up could provide better bone protection and ultimately reduce fracture risk.
“This study highlights the need for healthcare providers to take into consideration a woman’s age at menopause onset when evaluating patients for fracture risk,” said JoAnn Pinkerton, from the North American Menopause Society (NAMS).
“Women at risk for bone loss need 1,200 mg of calcium per day, with adequate vitamin D and encouraged to get as much as possible through diet due to concern that too much supplemental calcium may increase atherosclerotic plaque in women,” said Pinkerton. “Women with early menopause should discuss whether they are candidates for hormone therapy with their providers, appropriate amount of calcium, vitamin D and hormones,” said Pinkerton.
The study was published in the journal Menopause.