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June 12, 1999

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Hopkins Study Shows Combined Hormone Therapy Increases Muscle, Decreases Fat in Postmenopausal Women

A combined hormone therapy of estrogen and androgen may improve body composition in postmenopausal women, according to results of a Johns Hopkins study to be presented at 1 p.m., June 12, at ENDO 99, the 81st annual meeting of The Endocrine Society in San Diego.

Adrian S. Dobs, M.D., senior author of the study and an associate professor of endocrinology and metabolism at Hopkins, led researchers comparing the effects of estrogen supplements versus combined testosterone/estrogen supplements. A group of 40 postmenopausal women took an estrogen supplement for three months and estrogen plus androgen for the next four months.

After four months on the combined medication, the women had an average 2 to 4 percent reduction in body fat and an average 4 to 6 percent increase in muscle mass. By contrast, estrogen alone yielded slight increases in both fat and muscle.

"Postmenopausal women often experience an increase in fat tissue and a decrease in muscle tissue," Dobs says. "These data show that estrogen-androgen therapy may improve body composition in healthy women, but further study is necessary to determine if this therapy is effective in other groups, including women with chronic conditions such as diabetes or cancers."

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