Common Questions

What is the average annual rate of bone density loss in healthy, post-menopausal women?

The average rate of bone mineral density (BMD) loss in this group by DXA is 1 to 2 percent per year (range 1-5 percent yearly). The rate of loss varies by site in an individual woman's body and between women. Rates may be higher, at 2 to 4 percent per year, in the first 5 to 10 years after menopause (1).

Certain medical conditions and their treatment may predispose to more rapid loss. The table below illustrates examples of the rate of medically induced bone loss without treatment (2-4).

Examples of the Rate of Medically-induced Bone Loss wWithout Treatment
Natural Menopause - 1 to 2 % / year
Glucocorticoids - 10 to 20 % / year
Heart Transplant - 7 to 10 % / year
Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer using exemestane - 3 to 8 % / year
  1. Levis S, Altman R. Bone densitometry: Clinical considerations. Arthritis and Rheumatism 1998; 41: 577-587.
  2. Sambrook, P, Birmingham, J, Kempler, S, Kelly, P, Eberl, S., Pocock, N, Yeates, M and Eisman, J. . Corticosteroid effects on proximal femur bone loss. J Bone Miner Res 1990; 5: 12111216.
  3. Shane E, Rivas M, McMahon DJ, Staron RB, Silverberg SJ, Seible MJ, Mancini D. Loss and Turnover after Cardiac Transplantation. JCEM 1997; 82: 1497-1506.
  4. Coleman RE, Banks LM, Girgis SI, Kilburn LS, Vrdoljak E, Fox J, et al. Skeletal effects of exemestane on bone-mineral density, bone biomarkers, and fracture incidence in postmenopausal women with early breast cancer participating in the Intergroup Exemestane Study (IES): a randomised controlled study. Lancet Oncol 2007; 8(2): 119.
Last updated 2014-01-06

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