A study conducted on more than 1600 women reveals that parathyroid hormone (parathormone) increases the patient's bone density and cut the risk of fractures in them. The same hormone is also useful in regulating calcium levels in the body.
The new aspect of the hormone guarding against fractures has opened up the prospect of the hormone being used to treat osteoporosis or brittle bone disease as it is also known as.
The study, which was spread out over two years, had two groups - "one control group" that received placebos and another group that received 20 or 40 micro grams of parathyroid hormone every day. The women had to inject themselves daily with the hormone. Both the groups received vitamin D and calcium supplements.
Dr. Robert M. Neer of Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts and his team conducted the study and the findings are reported in the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Previous research has suggested parathyroid hormone may stop and even reverse bone loss. One recent study showed that parathyroid hormone coupled with estrogen replacement worked better than estrogen alone in boosting bone mass and preventing fractures among women with osteoporosis.
At the end of the study, Neer's team found that besides having fewer spinal fractures, women on parathyroid hormone were half as likely as those in the control group to sustain other types of fractures. Their bone density benefited as well, with women on the higher hormone dose seeing a greater increase in bone mass than those on the lower dose.
However, the higher dose was more likely to cause side effects such as nausea and headache. With many post menopausal women developing osteoporosis, use of parathyroid hormone will surely improve their condition in a big way, it is hoped.