Hormones May Protect Against Bone Loss in Women with Eating DisordersBy
Physicians helping women and girls overcome severe eating disorders know
that one of the associated risks is bone mineral loss. New evidence suggests
that estrogen and progestin hormones may help protect their bones during
Why worry about bone loss in young women and girls? Eating disorders or
excessive exercising may stop their menstrual periods. If this condition
persists for 6 months or longer, the young woman needs to see a physician to
rule out other medical problems.
If those are ruled out, physicians call the condition hypothalamic
amenorrhea. It's not serious, but the natural menstrual cycle circulates
hormones that play a role in maintaining strong bones. Stopping this cycle can
be especially risky for teenage girls whose bones are still developing, because
the risk of osteoporosis later in life is increased.
However, in a new study, under the direction of Albert C. Hergenroeder, MD,
of Baylor College of Medicine, in collaboration with
Kenneth J. Ellis,
PhD, of the USDA/ARS Children's
Nutrition Research Center in Houston Texas, twenty-four 14 to 28 year old
women with hypothalamic amenorrhea were treated with estrogen and progestin.
The scientists found women treated with these hormones improved their spines
and total skeletons as compared to control group. The researchers believe that
the treatment mimics the hormonal activity of the normal menstrual cycle
and helps protect from bone mineral loss until other medical care can restore
the patients' general healthand natural menstrual cycle.
This research was published in the American
Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Since the number of women studied
was very small, further research is needed. But if the results prove consistent,
physicians will have a new path to explore in treating bone loss for the five to
ten percent of American women and girls who suffer from eating disorders.
Scientific contact: Albert C. Hergenroeder, MD, [ (713) 770-3658 or
Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, or Kenneth J. Ellis, PhD, [(713)
798-7025 or firstname.lastname@example.org]
USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center, Houston,Texas.