Study: Depressed women may face higher risk of osteoporosis
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 beve 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 said.
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
"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 earr in life," Dr. Stephen
Minton of Alexandria Hospital said.
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