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Growth hormone improves bone density and reduces the risk of fractures in women with osteoporosis, according to a 2015 study. Women who received growth hormone were half as likely to experience a fracture over a 10-year period than women who did not.

The study involved 80 women (50 to 70 years old) who had osteoporosis and were taking estrogen-based hormone replacement therapy. Researchers randomly assigned the women to receive daily injections of either a low or high dose of growth hormone for three years or a placebo for 18 months. All the women took daily vitamin D and calcium supplements for the study’s duration. The researchers measured the women’s body composition and bone mass at regular intervals.

They found that women who received growth hormone injections showed marked improvements in their bone mineral density and bone mineral content compared to those who received the placebo. Over the 10-year period, the number of fractures among the women who received growth hormone dropped from 56 percent to 28 percent, whereas fractures among those who received the placebo increased from 8 percent to 32 percent.

Growth hormone, a peptide hormone produced in the pineal gland, promotes growth in childhood and adolescence. During middle age, growth hormone production decreases. Some evidence suggests that because growth hormone is secreted at night (during sleep), not getting enough sleep may hinder growth hormone release, exacerbating age-related bone loss. Learn how body temperature can influence how well you sleep at night in this clip featuring Dr. Matthew Walker.

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