Growth hormone may reduce fracture risk in older women

Growth hormone reduced the risk of fractures and helped maintain bone density in postmenopausal women.

The study involved 80 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis and they received daily injections of either placebo, a single unit of growth hormone or a 2.5 unit dose of growth hormone in the randomized, double-blind trial. The study subjects were between the ages of 50 and 70 when they were recruited and they were followed up over the decade of the study.

Women on placebo received the treatment for 18 months while those randomized to growth hormone continued injections for a further 18 months. The experts followed up the women for 7 years after the treatment was halted, and they monitored bone mineral density, fractures and perceptions of quality of life. They compared the participants’ results with a group of 120 women who did not take growth hormone.

The study revealed that the women who received the higher hormone shots had higher bone density levels than the participants who received the lower dose or placebo. In addition, the rate of fractures in the treated women who had fractures dropped by half during the 10-year study. The women who did not take shots had four times the fracture rate.

“Our study is the largest and longest controlled study of growth hormone treatment for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women to date,” said Dr. Emily Krantz, one of the researchers from Sodra Alvsborgs Hospital in Bora, Sweden. “Years after treatment stopped, women who were treated with growth hormone still experienced improved bone density and reduced fracture risk.”

Osteoporosis is a progressive condition that causes the bones to become weak and more likely to break. Women are three times more likely to experience an osteoporosis-related bone fracture in their lifetime than men.

Growth hormone secreted by somatotropic cells of the anterior pituitary gland, a major organ of the endocrine system. The hormone stimulates growth of all internal organs, increases protein synthesis and promotes gluconeogenesis in the liver. It is used as a treatment for growth hormone deficiency conditions. IMAGE/newsatjama

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