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Early menopause tied to more bone problems later

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The substantial minority of women who undergo early menopause are at increased risk of adverse outcomes including fracture susceptibility very late in life, Swedish researchers reported online April 25th in BJOG.

They consider “early” to be before age 47.

Dr. Ola Svejme, who led the study, told Reuters Health by email that approximately 15% of Western women enter menopause before age 47, and these women “should be aware of this risk factor for fracture, which again stresses the importance of a healthy lifestyle including, for example, regular physical activity.”

According to Dr. Svejme and colleagues at Skane University Hospital, Malmo, there’s evidence that an early menopause can predict osteoporosis and fractures. However, some believe this no longer holds true for women older than 70.

To investigate further, the researchers examined data from a prospective observational study of 390 white north European women who were 48 years old at its inception in 1977 – including 61 who went through menopause before turning 47.

At age 77, 198 women were still participating in the study. The remainder had died, moved away or did not wish to continue.

Overall, the mortality rate for the whole original cohort was 52.4% in the early menopause group and 35.2% in the late menopause group. The relative risk was thus 1.59. Corresponding rates of osteoporosis were 56% and 30%. The risk ratio for fractures was 1.68.

Given these apparently greater risks, Dr. Svejme added that for women with early menopause, “Bone density measurements could be recommended in the first post-menopausal decade and pharmacological treatment with calcium and vitamin D could be initiated already at this point.”


BJOG 2011.