Menopause can wreak havoc on a woman's bones and a new study reveals a good way to determine the risk of a fracture. Researchers know bone loss occurs after menopause, increasing chances of a fracture. However, not much is known about bone size and strength.
The Swedish study involved 146 women who were followed through menopause. Every other year they had bone scans done to determine bone size and density. All fractures related to a fall were recorded during the length of the study. Bone mineral density decreased annually by around 1.9 percent and bone mineral content decreased by around 1.3 percent. At the same time, the size of the bones increased significantly while strength decreased.
The researchers say after menopause, bone size increases at the same time bone density decreases. They suspect the loss of estrogen plays a part in the growth of bones, since the hormone is known to inhibit bone formation in rats.
While a woman's risk of a fracture increases with the loss of bone, the researchers believe the increase in bone size can offer more protection. They say bone density alone should no longer be the only predictor of fracture. It should be considered along with size to determine the true strength.