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.