Low oestrogen linked to hip fractures in men

New York: Low levels of the hormone oestrogen have been linked to an increased risk of hip fractures in older men, a new study in the US reveals.

The new study which is published in the May issue of the American Journal of Medicine, also states that those with low levels of oestrogen and testosterone are at the greatest risk. This study is the first to report the link between low estrogen and hip fracture in a study group of men from the general population followed over time.

It also found that men with low estrogen levels have an increased risk for future hip fracture, and those with both low estrogen and low testosterone levels have the greatest risk.

The study, of 793 men who had their hormone levels measured nbetween 1981 and 1983 and had no history of hip fracture, was conducted by Shreyasee Amin, MD at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s Framingham Heart Study www.framingham.com/heart. The men were monitored until 1999.

Thirty-nine men in the study experienced a low trauma hip fracture, such as that sustained by a fall. Those with low estrogen levels had 3.1 times the risk of hip fracture compared to men with high estrogen levels. There was no significant increase in hip fracture risk for men with low testosterone levels alone. But those both low estrogen and low testosterone levels had the greatest risk, with 6.5 times the risk of hip fracture compared to the men who had both estrogen and testosterone levels in the high range or midrange.

Though many people associate testosterone with men and estrogen with women, men possess both hormones, according to Dr Amin, who now works at the Mayo Clinic.

The researchers who undertook this study knew that low estrogen levels had been associated with low bone mineral density in elderly men, but any link to hip fracture, an important health risk in the elderly, was unknown. Hip fractures are worrisome in the elderly, especially in men, explains Dr. Amin. Up to 50 percent of men require institutionalized care after the fracture. Hip fracture also is linked to higher levels of mortality: up to 37 percent of men die within one year of fracture.

Routine tests on hormones are not performed in most countries and this study indicates the importance of such testing.

Older mothers live longer, say doctors

London: Older mothers may live longer because of the hormone oestrogen and because they don’t have lots of children, according to doctors in a TV programme on the National Geographic Channel programme called Animal Ageing Secrets (12 March 2pm UK).

Larger amounts of the hormone oestrogen are released when a women becomes pregnant helping extending lifespan by protecting the body from various diseases of ageing such as osteoporosis. Normally the hormone declines from around the age of 30.

Oestrogen is given to women as part of hormone replacement therapy to relieve some of the effects of the menopause which can lead to loss of skin elasticity, hair loss and othe symptom such as hot flushes and obesity.

The bodies of older mothers are also likely to suffer less wear and tear than younger mothers because they tend to have fewer children, say scientists from the University of Manchester. Dr Dawn Skelton said: ‘After 30, there is a dramatic reduction of oestrogen in women.

‘By leaving it longer before having our first child, we’re giving ourselves a big burst of oestrogen, which helps in all sorts of ways – muscle, bone, nervous function.

‘It also helps that the later we reproduce, the less we reproduce.

‘It means that we’re not going to have lots of babies – the more children we have, the bigger toll it takes on our bodies.’

A good love life may also increase life expectancy.

‘A healthy sex life can have enormous benefits,’ added Dr Skelton, who is to feature on a
‘Testosterone levels drop in men and women as they grow older. But sex produces more testosterone, which may help keep our hearts in good shape. Those people who maintain a healthy sex life have a better outlook on life.

‘And trials of the oldest among us – 90-year- olds and above – show that 20 per cent are still actively engaged in sex.

‘That activity increases heart rate and the metabolism and decreases stress.’

In the UK in 2004, 22,700 women over 40 became pregnant, up by 1,800 on 2003 – the highest number since the post-war baby boom of the early 1960s. The figures follow growing concern of a ‘baby gap’ caused by women putting their career and financial security ahead of starting a family. And sn estimated 92,000 planned babies a year are never born because women who choose to delay motherhood have fertility problems.