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Hormone Therapy Improves Femur Geometry Among Ethnically Diverse Postmenopausal Participants in the Women's Health Initiative Hormone Intervention Trials

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Loss of bone strength underlies osteoporotic fragility fractures. We hypothesized that hormone interventions significantly improve the structural geometry of proximal femur cross-sections. Study participants were from the Women's Health Initiative hormone intervention trials: either the conjugated equine estrogen (CEE) only (N(placebo) = 447, N(CEE) = 422) trial or the estrogen (E) plus progestin (P) (N(placebo) = 441, N(E+P) = 503) trial, who were 50-79 yr old at baseline and were followed up to 6 yr. BMD scans by DXA were conducted at baseline, year 1, year 3, and year 6. Femur geometry was derived from hip DXA scans using the hip structural analysis (HSA) method. Mixed effects models with the intent-to-treat analysis approach were used. There were no significant differences in treatment effects between the E-alone and the E + P trial, so the analyses were conducted with participants combined from both trials. Treatment benefits (p < 0.05) on femur geometry were observed as early as 1 yr after the intervention. From baseline to year 6, section modulus (a measure of maximum bending stress) was preserved, and buckling ratio (an index of cortical instability under compression) was reduced by hormone interventions (p < 0.05); the differences in the percent changes from baseline to year 6 between women on hormone intervention versus women on placebo were 2.3-3.6% for section modulus and -5.3% to - 4.3% for buckling ratio. Hormone interventions led to favorable changes in femur geometry, which may help explain the reduced fracture risk observed in hormone interventions.

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