Posted on Mar 25, 2020, 3 p.m.
Skeletal muscle mass and strength are important to preventing falls, fractures, and disability, yet they continue to decline during the transition into menopause. A recent study published in Menopause suggests that prolonged use of hormone therapy is associated with higher muscle mass as well as decreasing the odds for sarcopenia.
Sarcopenia is described as a loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength that typically affects older populations, and it increases the risks of falls, fractures, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It is highly prevalent among postmenopausal women but there is no evidence to support a link with decline in estrogen during transition. Several small studies have been carried out to assess the associations between muscle mass and hormone therapy but they have yielded inconsistent results.
This study involved over 4,200 postmenopausal women, and is one of few large scale studies to assess the link between muscle loss in this group of women and hormone therapy focusing on the duration of hormone therapy use and the effects on muscle mass and the prevalence of sarcopenia. Based on their findings the researchers concluded that prolonged use of hormone therapy is associated with higher muscle mass and a lower prevalence of sarcopenia in postmenopausal women.
"Although not all studies examining an association between hormone therapy and muscle mass have shown positive results, this large cross-sectional study demonstrated a relationship between extended use of hormone therapy and both greater muscle mass and lower risk of sarcopenia in women aged younger than 65 years and with a body mass index less than 25 kg/m2," says Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director. "The mechanism by which estrogen protects muscle mass remains unclear, and additional study is needed."
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