Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Effect of salcatonin given intranasally on early postmenopausal bone loss.

British Medical Journal 1989; 299 doi: (Published 19 August 1989) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1989;299:477
  1. K. Overgaard,
  2. B. J. Riis,
  3. C. Christiansen,
  4. M. A. Hansen
  1. Department of Clinical Chemistry, Glostrup Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


    OBJECTIVE--To study the effect of salmon calcitonin (salcatonin) given intranasally on calcium and bone metabolism in early postmenopausal women. DESIGN--Double blind, placebo controlled, randomised group comparison. SETTING--Outpatient clinic for research into osteoporosis. SUBJECTS--52 Healthy women who had had a natural menopause two and a half to five years previously. INTERVENTIONS--The 52 women were allocated randomly to two years of treatment with either salcatonin 100IU given intranasally (n = 26) or placebo (n = 26). Both groups received a calcium supplement of 500 mg daily. Seven of the women receiving salcatonin and six of those receiving placebo left the study before its end. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Bone mineral content in the spine, the total skeleton, and the forearms after two years of treatment. RESULTS--Bone mineral content in the spine was significantly higher in the women who had received salcatonin than in those who had received placebo both after one year and after two years of treatment. After one year the difference was 3.8% (95% confidence interval 0.0 to 7.6%) and after two years it was 8.2% (3.8 to 12.6%). In contrast, the bone mineral content in the distal and proximal forearms and in the total skeleton declined similarly in both groups by about 2% each year, and after two years of treatment the differences between the groups were not significant. Biochemical estimates of bone turnover were not affected by salcatonin. CONCLUSION--The results suggest that salcatonin given intranasally in the dose used prevents bone loss in the spine of early post menopausal women but does not affect the peripheral skeleton.