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'Bone' up on hormones

It could save your skeleton

Estrogen therapy is one of the leading treatments for osteoporosis, so obviously hormones can affect your bones. However, estrogen isn't the only hormone you need to know about. your thyroid and parathyroid glands also produce hormones that may affect the health of your bones.

Your thyroid is located in your neck and helps to regulate your metabolism. Sometimes this gland produces too much thyroid hormone ( hyperthyroidism ) or too little hormone ( hypothyroidism ). If you've taken drugs to correct these problems, your bones could be suffering the consequences.

Although there is conflicting evidence, some research finds that thyroid-suppressing drugs may contribute to lower bones density. A few other studies suggest that taking additional thyroid hormones may be harmful. If you've taken thyroid-suppressing drugs or thyroid hormones, you should have a bones scan done regularly.

On the other hand, you parathyroid glands may be the key to better bones in later life. These small glands near your thyroid produce parathyroid hormone (PTH), which regulates calcium and phosphorus metabolism.

In a recent study, two-thirds of women with postmenopausal osteoporosis who took parathyroid hormone in addition to their estrogen therapy regained full, healthy bone mass. The women in the study who continued their estrogen therapy without adding parathyroid hormone only experienced a small 1.5 percent gain in bone mass.

If all goes well, parathyroid hormone may soon be available as an osteoporosis treatment. Check with your doctor.

 
 

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