CORVALLIS - Researchers at Oregon State University are seeking volunteers for a study that will evaluate how oral contraceptive use affects bone density and bone health in young women.

The research is being conducted through the OSU Bone Research Laboratory, which studies bone health, including osteoporosis-related fractures. Hawley C. Almstedt, a doctoral student working in the lab with OSU professor Christine Snow, is conducting the study.

Volunteers are needed for the project. Participants should be between the ages of 18 and 25, available for testing in the fall of 2003 and 2004, and not on any medication other than oral contraceptives that may affect bone metabolism. Volunteers should not be pregnant, nor have a physical limitation to exercise.

Control subjects who are not on oral contraceptives, but meet the other criteria, also are needed.

"Research shows that four in 10 American women in that age group are currently on birth control pills," Almstedt said. "We are testing a hypothesis that oral contraceptive use may improve bone health and therefore help prevent osteoporosis later in life.

"Our hypothesis is that physically active women who take oral contraceptives will have stronger bones than inactive women, or women not using the pill," Almstedt added.

The OSU researchers warn, however, that studies have shown that the use of some hormonal contraceptives, which are given every three months by injection, results in bone loss that may not be recovered when women stop getting the shot.

Participants in the study will receive free bone mineral density tests and a complete nutrition analysis. Volunteers will undergo bone scans, hand grip strength tests, and fill out questionnaires dealing with medical history, menstrual history, physical activity, dietary habit and nutrition.

Volunteers will receive a $50 stipend, funded by the John C. Erkkila Foundation.

For more information, call the Bone Research Lab at 541-737-3094, or visit the web at

Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.


Hawley C. Almstedt, 541-737-6785