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Contraception. 1998 Apr;57(4):231-5.

Oral contraception and other factors in relation to hospital referral for fracture. Findings in a large cohort study.

Author information

1
Division of Public Health and Primary Health Care, Institute of Health Sciences, Oxford, England.

Abstract

There is good evidence that estrogens and progestogens have an important effect on bone metabolism. This article explores the relationship between oral contraceptive (OC) use and fractures occurring at various sites among the 17,032 participants in the Oxford-Family Planning Association contraceptive study, which now includes information accumulated during 310,000 woman-years of observation between 1968 and 1994. In total, 1308 women suffered at least one fracture during the follow-up period, which was largely confined to premenopausal years. When all fractures were combined, there was a modest, but highly significant trend (p < 0.001) of increasing risk with total duration of oral contraceptive use. In addition, there was statistically significant heterogeneity (p < 0.01) when overall fracture rates were examined in relation to recency of oral contraceptive use during the premenopausal lifespan. The highest relative risk (1.3, 95% CI 1.1-1.5) was for current or recent oral contraceptive users; however, viewed as a whole, no clear pattern of risk was apparent. Examination of the data for individual fracture sites (including the lower end of the radius/ulna) did not provide any evidence of a protective effect of oral contraceptive use. These results are closely similar to those reported from the Royal College of General Practitioners Oral Contraception Study in 1993.

PIP:

Estrogens and progestogens have an important effect on bone metabolism. The present study explored the relationship between oral contraceptive (OC) use and bone fractures in the cohort of 17,032 English and Scottish participants in the Oxford-Family Planning Association contraceptive study (1968-94). The analysis was based on the calculation of woman-years of observation terminated by referral for fracture or release from follow-up due to death, emigration, or short-term pill users reaching age 45 years. A total of 1308 women experienced at least one fracture during 310,000 woman-years of observation and there was a significant (p 0.001) positive relationship between age and fracture risk. Most common were fractures of the radius/ulna, tarsal/metatarsal bones, and ankle. When all fractures were combined, there was a significant (p 0.001) increasing risk with total duration of OC use. Also observed was a significant (p 0.01) heterogeneity when overall fracture rates were examined in relation to recency of OC use during the premenopausal lifespan. The highest relative risk (1.3; 95% confidence interval, 1.1-1.5) was recorded among current or recent OC users. There was about a 20% increase in the overall risk of fracture in women who had used OCs at any time compared with never-users. Overall, however, no clear pattern of risk emerged. These results are similar to those reported in the 1993 Royal College of General Practitioners OC Study. It is assumed that the increased fracture risk in OC users results from life-style characteristics of such women rather than a direct effect of OCs on bone.

PMID:
9649913
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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