In order to describe the relationships between endogenous sex hormones and bone mineral density in healthy postmenopausal women, we carried out a cross-sectional study of 90 community-based women, all at least one year since their last menstrual period (mean 9.6 +/- 4.9 years, range 1-22) and with a serum oestradiol level less than 100 pmol/l. None was currently using hormone replacement therapy. Serum oestradiol, testosterone, sex hormone binding globulin, dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate, and androstenedione were measured using standard techniques. Free oestradiol and testosterone indices were derived as the ratio of total hormone to sex hormone binding globulin, respectively. Total body, spine and hip bone mineral density (g/cm2) were measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry. Significant positive correlations were found between the free oestradiol and testosterone indices and bone mineral density at all sites. These relationships remained significant for the free oestradiol index after adjustment for age and body mass index. By stepwise multiple regression analysis, the free oestradiol index was an independent predictor of total body, spine and hip bone mineral density, accounting for 4-17% of the variance. These findings suggest an independent positive relationship between endogenous free oestradiol and total body, spine and hip bone mass even in the late postmenopause.
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