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Estrogen helps muscle response to training

8 March 2021

Increased awareness is needed around the importance of maintaining bone health in the postmenopause, to reduce the risk of osteoporotic fracture. However, importance also lies with maintaining and building muscle and balance to reduce the risk of falling and hence fracture.

It is known that there is acceleration of loss of muscle mass around the menopausal period, and it has been suggested that estrogen replacement may provide benefit.

A recently published randomised controlled trial from Denmark has shown that women who carried out resistance training over 12 weeks showed a greater increase in muscle mass when they also took transdermal estrogen compared to placebo.

Significant increases were seen in the cross-sectional muscle area of the quadriceps femoris, whole-body fat-free area, and hand grip strength.

While only a small number of women in each group were included, (16 who trained and took placebo, and 15 who trained and took estrogen), and the study was of short duration, the additional benefit of estrogen is encouraging and should be investigated further. More is needed to highlight the importance of measures such as exercise, to reduce the risk of falling, as well as maintaining bone health.

Dam TV, Dalgaard LB, Ringgaard S, et al. Transdermal estrogen therapy improves gains in skeletal muscle mass after 12 weeks of resistance training in early postmenopausal women. Front Physiol. 2021;11:596130

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