Memphis, Tenn. (June 26, 2013) – Can taking calcium and vitamin D help prevent bone fractures among women taking postmenopausal hormone therapy? That’s the question that researchers and more than 60,000 women have tried to answer through a Women’s Health Initiative study. Over more than 19 years, postmenopausal participants aged 50 to 79 years enrolled in clinical trials at 40 centers in the United States, including at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) in Memphis. Since 1993, more than 4,200 women have taken part in the study through the UTHSC Department of Preventive Medicine. The Women’s Health Initiative study had two separate, but overlapping clinical trials of hormone replacement therapy and calcium plus vitamin D which examined the effect of these medications on a large number of health outcomes including osteoporotic fracture.
Recently, Karen C. Johnson, MD, MPH, joined 10 colleagues from other institutions to co-author an abstract on the progress and results of the study. Dr. Johnson is professor and interim chair of Preventive Medicine and PI (principal investigator) of the Women’s Health Initiative study at UTHSC. The manuscript entitled, “Women’s Health Initiative clinical trials: interaction of calcium and vitamin D with hormone therapy,” appears in the current online edition of the journal Menopause. The study followed participants for an average of 7.2 years.
Women who were taking both hormone replacement therapy and calcium plus vitamin D had a reduced risk of hip fracture compared to women who were taking either medication alone or a placebo. This reduced risk was seen whether or not women had a high or low calcium plus vitamin D diet, Dr. Johnson observed. These findings suggest that women who are taking hormone replacement therapy to prevent osteoporotic hip fracture should also take calcium plus vitamin D supplements. Results from this study should be evaluated in the context of current FDA recommendations to use postmenopausal hormone therapy for severe menopausal symptoms, at the lowest effective dose, for the shortest time. Women should also discuss the overall risk to benefit ratio of taking postmenopausal hormone therapy with their health care provider. To review the paper, please use this link: http://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/toc/publishahead.