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Menopause can bring on a laundry list of changes and health concerns that, let’s just say, no woman in her right mind is too thrilled about.
To top it off, it’s long been recognized that post-menopausal women are also at higher risk of osteoporosis — a condition that causes your bones to weaken and become more prone to fractures, especially in your wrist, spine, and hip.
And although doctors have thought that the loss of estrogen during menopause might be the cause of this osteoporosis link, they really didn’t know why until a recent study at Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU). In fact, the Tokyo scientists not only found the molecular link between estrogen and bone aging but also a clue as to what you can do to prevent it.
Estrogen and healthy bone structure
Bone is an incredibly complex tissue, consisting of a matrix of proteins and minerals that give it the flexibility and strength to carry you through thousands of small and large movements each day.
Osteocytes (specialized cells in your bone matrix) help to maintain its structure, and there are many factors which help them work better and more efficiently, one of which is a newly discovered protein called Sema3A. The protein, discovered by the Tokyo scientists, led them to suspect there might be a relationship between the protein and estrogen that could explain why women are at such high risk for bone loss following menopause.
To prove their theory, the researchers experimented with mice whose ovaries had been removed to simulate the estrogen drop seen in menopause. And, the scientists learned three things:
- When estrogen goes down, so does the protein Sema3A.
- When estrogen and Sema3A go down, so does bone mass.
- You can prevent bone mass loss by supplying extra estrogen.
Lead author, Mikihito Hayashi, said, “We believe that, as women lose estrogen with age and Sema3A levels drop off, osteocytes begin to die and bone loses the ability to maintain its supportive structure.”
Preventing osteoporosis after menopause
So, did you catch the really important part of that list of findings?
Yep, it was the last one…
You can prevent the osteoporosis caused by menopause by supplementing estrogen.
But, how do you do that? After all, hormone replacement therapy has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, and even breast cancer. However, these dangers are associated with a specific type of hormone replacement therapy — taking synthetic oral estrogen.
That’s why Dr. Michael Cutler, a graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine and a board-certified family physician with more than 20 years of experience, recommends using bio-identical transdermal estrogen cream instead.
He says that unlike taking estrogen by mouth which has to be processed in your intestines and passed to your liver for detoxification, bio-identical creams absorb directly into your bloodstream so that they can be used where they’re needed in your body.
In fact, a study on transdermal estrogen supplementation found that women taking a low dose of just 0.1 mg per day stopped bone density loss and significantly lowered their fracture rate.
So, if you want to defeat the osteoporosis brought on by menopause, ask your doctor about transdermal estrogen supplementation. It can ensure the proteins in your bone matrix are functioning properly to keep them strong.
But if you’re unable or would prefer not to use hormone replacement therapy, there is another good option. A daily probiotic may help you prevent the bone loss due to menopause…
Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine and Georgia State University found that mice that had undergone ovary removal (simulating menopause) lost half their bone density within a month. But in a group of the ovary-less mice that they gave probiotics to — there was no change in bone density.
And here’s a big plus: In mice who still had their ovaries intact — probiotics boosted bone growth. That means if you haven’t hit menopause, a daily probiotic can help you get a headstart on your bone health.
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- How does estrogen protect bones? Unraveling a pathway to menopausal bone loss — Tokyo Medical and Dental University
- How to get your estrogen back with benefits — Easy Health Options®