Bone density in different regions of the skeleton was measured in 392 normal women aged 20–80 years by dual photon absorpiometry. In premenopausal women, aged 25–50 years, multiple regression analysis of regional bone density on age, height, and weight showed a small significant decrease in total bone density (<0.01) but no significant change in other regions of the skeleton. In postmenopausal women there were highly significant decreases in all regions of the skeleton (p < 0.001), and bone density in these areas decreased as a logarithmic function of years since menopause.

Based on multiple regression analyses, the decrease in spine density and total bone calcium was 2.5–3.0 times greater in the 25 years after menopause than the 25 years before menopause. The largest change, however, occurred in the first five years after menopause. During this time the estimated annual change in spine density and total bone calcium was about 10 times greater than that in the premenopausal period. These results demonstrate the important effect of the menopause in determining bone mass in later life.