Hormone Therapy Doesn't Prevent Age Related Muscle Loss In Women

Hormone therapy (HT) neither contributes to nor prevents changes in muscle strength in postmenopausal women; a systematic review and meta analysis has found. “The small potential benefit for maintaining muscle mass in the general population of postmenopausal women likely does not outweigh the potential risks of prolonged HT,” the researchers write.

Muscle mass and strength

Some studies suggest hormone therapy may protect against age related decline in muscle mass and strength, or sarcopenia; hence in menopausal and postmenopausal women; so on the basis of the hypothesis that declining estrogen levels during the menopause transition accelerate the assault on lean body mass. In total, the analysis included 12 studies comprising 4474 participants. The median duration of follow-up was 2 years.

Treatment varied by duration, formulation and dosage. The primary outcome of interest was change in LBM. Subgroup analyses looked at between group differences on the basis of hormone therapy type and dosage; duration of follow-up, time since menopause, study quality, and type of LBM measurement. The main effect analysis showed that, across all studies, hormone therapy was associated with a nonstatistically significant loss of 0.06 kg less LBM (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.05 to 0.18) compared with the control group.

The non significant reduction in lost LBM observed in the treatment group is unlikely to be clinically relevant for the average postmenopausal woman,” the authors write. Women older than 50 years are report to lose approximately 1% of muscle mass each year, the researchers say. “At this rate, it would take approximately 66 years for a woman of average height and LBM to become sarcopenic according to the cutoff of 7.4 kg/m2 recommended by the European Working Group on Sarcopenia.”

Possible hormone therapy

Additionally, with respect to the slight increase in sarcopenia-free time with treatment; “most women would not live long enough to experience these additional sarcopenia free years,” the authors stress. Although it is possible that hormone therapy could be beneficial to women with lower muscle mass at baseline, “to our knowledge; so no research in this specific population has conduct,” the authors write.

The study findings are limited by the high risk; so for bias in many of the studies, the authors write. Despite these limitations, however; so “the results of this review remained consistent across subgroups; so indicating that the overall body of literature has not show a meaningful association between HT and muscle mass,” they note.

Given the importance of muscle retention in aging women; interventions other than hormone therapy be investigate; so the authors explain. “Further work is also required to determine whether HT is beneficial to muscle strength or function,” they state; so noting that muscle strength plays a bigger role in health outcomes than muscle mass.