By Anne Harding
NEW YORK | Thu Aug 19, 2010 12:24pm EDT
Women who use a certain type of long-acting hormonal contraceptive are at a slightly increased risk of broken bones, new research suggests.
More than 9 million women worldwide use Depo Provera, an injection of progesterone given every three months, Dr. Christoph R. Meier of University Hospital Basel in Switzerland and his colleagues explain in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Some evidence has suggested that the contraceptive, which suppresses estrogen production, could weaken bones, but it’s not clear whether the drug actually increases the risk of bone fractures, the authors add.
To investigate, Meier and his team compared 17,527 women 20 to 44 years old who were diagnosed with a fracture between 1995 and 2008 to a control group of 70,130 women in the same age range who were fracture-free.
Depo Provera was linked to an increased likelihood of fractures, the researchers found; women who were currently using the contraceptive and had filled one or two prescriptions had an 18 percent greater likelihood of fractures than non-users; women with three to nine prescriptions were at 36 percent increased risk, and women with 10 or more prescriptions were at 54 percent increased risk. The greatest increase in risk was seen among current Depo Provera users who had been using the contraceptive for more than two or three years.