Effect of estrogens and calcium carbonate on bone loss in postmenopausal women

Ann Intern Med. 1977 Dec;87(6):649-55. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-87-6-649.


Sixty postmenopausal women were placed in three groups--control, sex hormone-treated, and CaCO3-treated--and followed for 2 years. Skeletal mass decreased by 1.18%/year in the control group, 0.15%/year in the hormone group, and 0.22%/year in the CaCO3 group by radiogrammetry; and 2.88%/year in the control group, 0.73%/year in the hormone group, and 1.83%/year in the CaCO3 group by photon absorptiometry. The treatment groups differed significantly from the control group except for photon absorptiometry in the CaCO3 group. Bone accretion and resorption decreased in the treatment groups as measured by calcium tracer kinetics, resorption more so than accretion. We conclude that [1] these techniques are sufficiently sensitive to detect age-related bone loss; [2] postmenopausal sex-hormone replacement measurably decreases age-related bone loss by suppressing bone turnover, resorption more than accretion; and [3] calcium supplements produce the same effect but at the dose we used were slightly less effective.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Aged
  • Bone and Bones / diagnostic imaging
  • Bone and Bones / drug effects*
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium / physiology
  • Calcium Carbonate / pharmacology*
  • Estrogens, Conjugated (USP) / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Menopause*
  • Methyltestosterone / pharmacology
  • Middle Aged
  • Minerals / metabolism
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood


  • Estrogens, Conjugated (USP)
  • Minerals
  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Calcium Carbonate
  • Calcium
  • Methyltestosterone