CORVALLIS - Researchers at Oregon State University are seeking volunteers for a new study on the effects of estrogen supplements on bone density and muscle strength in early post-menopausal women.

Studies have shown that women can lose as much as 3 to 8 percent of their bone mass per year within the first five years after menopause because of reduced estrogen levels. The OSU study will try to determine whether estrogen hormone replacement therapy can help women maintain that bone and muscle mass, lowering the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

Since a high percentage of fractures are fall-related - and falls are related to leg, ankle and hip muscle strength - maintenance and development of the muscular system is critical, the researchers say.

The study will be led by Christine Snow, director of the Bone Research Laboratory at OSU, and Gianni Maddalozzo, an instructor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science.

"The loss of bone in post-menopausal women is a serious health risk," Maddalozzo said. "About half of all women over 50 years of age have osteoporosis, and muscle loss occurs with aging as well. It is unknown whether or not loss of muscle strength and mass is also associated with the low estrogen that accompanies menopause."

The researchers are looking for as many as 150 women to volunteer for the study. Participants must be within one year of menopause, and will be required to come to the OSU campus three times during the one-year study. Women who are taking estrogen - by either pills or patch - and those who are not undergoing any estrogen therapy are both needed for the study.

Each of the three campus visits will require about two or three hours of testing and questions, the researchers say, and strict confidentiality will be maintained.

The study is funded by the John C. Erkkila, M.D., Endowment for Health and Human Performance.

For more information, or to volunteer for the study, call Shantel Stark at 541-737-5935.

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Gianni "John" Maddalozzo, 541-737-6802