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UB study suggests reduced fracture risk with hormone therapy in some women

Women at the highest genetic risk for bone fractures benefit the most from hormone therapy, according to a University at Buffalo study of 10,000 participants in the national Women's Health Initiative.

As women age, their bone mineral density decreases, leaving them at greater risk of breaking bones from falls. Some women are more genetically prone to fractures. The researchers said their study is believed to be the first to investigate gene-hormone therapy interaction on fractures in postmenopausal white women.

“We found that women who are genetically at the highest fracture risk can enjoy the greatest protection from fracture when they use hormone therapy,” Heather Ochs-Balcom, a UB associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health who led the research team, said in a statement.

The findings were published online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. The paper’s first author, Youjin Wang, conducted the research as a doctoral candidate in epidemiology and environmental health at UB.

Researchers looked at a subset of 9,922 women among the more than 27,000 who had participated in Women's Health Initiative hormone therapy clinical trials. The federally funded Initiative began in 1991 and consisted of a set of studies looking at health issues in more than 161,000 postmenopausal women.

Further studies on gene-therapy interaction are needed to evaluate the advantages of targeted treatments based on genetic profile, the researchers said.

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