Lower doses of conjugated estrogens (CE) alone or combined with lower doses of medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) increase mean bone mineral density (BMD) from baseline at the spine and hip in early postmenopausal women. However, not all women on therapy gain BMD. The incidence of continued bone loss (defined as a loss of BMD of >2% from baseline) among women using lower doses of CE and CE/MPA is unknown. This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter substudy of the Women's Health, Osteoporosis, Progestin, Estrogen (Women's HOPE) trial investigated the incidence of continued bone loss with lower-dose CE and CE/MPA. Eight hundred twenty-two healthy postmenopausal women with intact uteri received CE 0.625, CE 0.625/MPA 2.5, CE 0.45, CE 0.45/MPA 2.5, CE 0.45/MPA 1.5, CE 0.3, CE 0.3/MPA 1.5 (all doses in mg/day), or placebo for 2 years along with 600 mg/day of calcium. Changes from baseline in spine and total hip BMD were compared among treatment groups in an intent-to-treat analysis. At 12 months, 2% of spinal BMD (except CE 0.3/MPA 1.5 [15.6%]), compared with 41.2% of women on placebo. At 24 months, the percentages of women on active treatment who lost >2% of spine BMD ranged from 4.5% with CE 0.45/MPA 1.5-15.6% with CE 0.3/MPA 1.5, compared with 55.2% of women taking placebo. More than 85% of women on active treatment did not experience continued BMD loss at the hip at 12 months and 24 months, in contrast to 30.6% of women on placebo at 12 months and 36.5% at 24 months. Women receiving active treatment who lost >2% of spine or hip BMD also had a lesser reduction in biochemical markers of bone turnover. In summary, continued bone loss among early postmenopausal women treated with lower doses of CE or CE/MPA is uncommon.
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