Associations of hormone replacement therapy with bone structure and physical performance among postmenopausal women

K. Uusi-Rasi, T. J. Beck, H. Sievänen, A. Heinonen, I. Vuori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The purpose of this cohort study was to focus on factors associated with bone mass and structure of lower limbs and physical performance after menopause. Eighty nonsmoking women with a mean age of 62.1 (SD 0.8) years participated in the study. They were classified into two groups by their use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), either the current users (n = 43) or the never or discontinued users (n = 37). The tibial shaft and distal tibia were scanned with peripheral computed tomography. For the shaft region, the bone mineral content (BMC, g), cortical density (CoD, g/cm3), cortical area (CoA, mm2), and section modulus (BSI, mm3) were determined. For the distal part, the evaluated variables were BMC, total area (ToA), ratio of cortical to total area (CoA/ToA), trabecular density (TrD, g/mm3), cortical thickness, BSI, and buckling ratio. Isometric and dynamic muscle strength of the leg extensors, agility and postural sway, and cardiorespiratory capacity (VO2max) were measured. Unadjusted values for all bone variables were slightly higher among the HRT users compared to nonusers, with the exception of TrD with no difference. After controlling for body weight, the mean differences (95% confidence interval) remained significant for CoD of the tibial shaft and BSI of the distal tibia, the mean between-group differences being 1.5% (0.4 to 2.5%) and 23.0% (7.1 to 41.3%), respectively. Underlying the greater bending strength, HRT users had thicker cortices and a greater ratio of CoA/ToA. No differences existed between the two study groups for lower limb isometric or dynamic power, cardiorespiratory capacity, or postural balance or sway. HRT may offer protection against bone loss and maintain bone strength, although its ability to improve physical performance is not evident.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)704-710
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2003


  • Bone mass
  • Bone strength
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Muscle strength
  • Physical performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Histology

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