Study: Depressed women may face higher risk of osteoporosis
October 16, 1996
Web posted at: 2:45 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Women who are depressed are more likely
to develop brittle bones late in life, a new study says.
The National Institutes of Health has found a link between
depression and osteoporosis, a bone-thinning condition caused
by a lack of calcium.
"If they continue to have depressions and continue to lose
bone mineral density, then they will enter menopause already
at a significant risk for fracture," Dr. Philip Gold of the
National Institute of Mental Health.
NIH scientists believe depression unleashes hormones that can
weaken bones over a period of years.
"We predicted that there would be some loss in bone mineral
density on the basis of the high cortisol levels, but we were
actually quite surprised to see the magnitude of it," Gold
Doctors studied 48 middle-age women, comparing bone strength
in those who were healthy to those suffering from depression.
Depressed women had up to 15 percent more bone loss than
healthy women, and their chances of breaking a hip increased
by 40 percent.
NIH researchers found that a depressed 40-year-old woman had
bone loss equal to that of a 70-year-old. But it appears the
problem can be reversed.
Up to 9 percent of U.S. women suffer from depression, but
anti-depressants can dampen the damaging hormones. And new
drugs can help rejuvenate frail bones.
"A previous history of major depression should alert us to
the fact that this person may be at higher risk for
developing osteoporosis. Further studies such as bone density
scanning may be indicated earlier in life," Dr. Stephen
Minton of Alexandria Hospital said.
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