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Abstract: We compared the cost-effectiveness of interventions to prevent osteoporosis using a decision analytic model for a hypothetical cohort of 100 000 healthy perimenopausal women. The interventions were: oestrogen from age 50 for life, oestrogen from age 50 for 15 years, oestrogen from age 65 years for life, and a lifestyle regime of calcium supplements and exercise. The four interventions were compared with the case of no intervention by examining the effects on medical and nursing home costs, life years gained, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) gained and costs per QALY gained. Lifetime oestrogen therapy from age 65 years achieved the lowest cost per life year gained and the lowest cost per QALY gained. The lifestyle intervention was the most expensive intervention by all measures but was sensitive to the cost of exercise and to the effects of exercise on cardiovascular mortality. Conventionally, oestrogen therapy begins at the menopause to avoid the rapid decline in bone mass that occurs with normally decreasing oestrogen levels. These results indicate that there is evidence, both in terms of fracture prevention and cost, to justify introduction of treatment at a later age. If a lifestyle intervention regimen can reduce cardiovascular mortality as well as hip fracture, this may provide an alternative means of reducing osteoporotic hip fracture at a reasonable cost.