Hormone replacement therapy study shows improved muscle strength
14th May 2013
A new study which was recently published in The Journal of Physiology has suggested that there could be a new treatment for improving muscle function in older women. Weakened muscles result in many of us turning to stairlifts and other mobility aids for support, and this new discovery means that many of us could use them a little less in the future.
The study comes from researchers at Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden, who have been analysing the effects of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) on muscle function. HRT is used as a treatment for relieving the symptoms of menopause, but it has received negative publicity from other studies in the past. This has meant that some women are reluctant to use HRT, but this new study offers the potential for the treatment to offer a real, positive outcome.
Previous studies have pointed towards the idea that HRT reduces the effects of age-related decline in muscle mass and strength, and this new study is a step forward from this, exploring this at cellular and molecular levels. To carry out their research, the team analysed pairs of postmenopausal identical twins; the use of identical twins rules out genetic differences which could otherwise impair the results. One of each pair of twins was given HRT and a close examination of muscle biopsies was then undertaken on both of them by the research team.
A number of positive results were seen in the tests, one of the most important being that greater strength was seen in the muscles of HRT users; higher maximum force was generated when compared to non-HRT users. Dr. Lars Larsson, leader of the study, said that the research suggests that HRT "reduces modifications of muscle contractile proteins that are linked to ageing". Furthermore, he went on to say that HRT "optimises cellular level protein transport", which results in improved muscle fibre function.
This study provides some real hope for the future of female walk in shower and bath users who could benefit from improved muscle strength if the results of this study lead to the development of a publicly available treatment. Dr. Lars Larsson added that future studies will be focusing on the molecular mechanisms that underlie age-related changes in skeletal muscle.
Although the study focused on postmenopausal women, the positive results of HRT usage could open up possibilities for enhancing muscle mass and function generally in older people with new pharmacological developments.
Image Credit: Public Domain Photos (flickr.com)
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