Flexing Their Muscles, the Women Taking HRT; TREATMENT THAT CAN EVEN MAKE IT EASIER TO DO THE GARDENING

Article excerpt

Byline: JENNY HOPE

THE benefits for women who take hormone replacement therapy can include new-found strength, according to research.

HRT, already said to improve the health, energy and sex life of menopausal women, can also boost muscle power, the study reveals.

As a result, it could also help them avoid the bone-breaking falls which can be caused by weak muscles - as well as giving the strength to cope with strenuous exercise and physical activities such as gardening.

After the menopause, women lose their supply of the female hormone oestrogen, which causes problems such as hot flushes and accelerated loss of bone. HRT replaces the hormone and slows down bone loss.

The six-year study, by Professor Roger Woledge and his team at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, North-West London, shows that menopausal women having HRT are significantly stronger than those who are not undergoing the treatment.

The team examined more than a hundred middle-aged and elderly women, half of whom were having HRT.

Researchers measured the strength and size of the women's muscles and the density of their bone mineral.

They found that muscle strength in the HRT group was up to 30 per cent greater than among the others, though there was no significant difference in muscle size between the two groups.

The average difference in strength was 15 per cent, says a report of the study in the Biochemical Society

journal.

Scientists have long suspected HRT increases physical strength, but there has been no proof.

Professor Woledge said: 'It's been a long hard struggle but we have proved that HRT makes you stronger.

'The women who were weakest at the beginning of the study showed the greatest increase in muscle strength.

'We were interested in why old people are weak, what the consequences are and what can be done.

'Many menopausal women find themselves weaker than they would like to be. 'They find all sorts of activities curtailed. Some of them can't even do the gardening. …