Taking oral contraceptives can lower a young women’s bone density according to research by LMU Professor of Natural Science Hawley Almstedt and Oregon State University Professor of Natural Science Christine M. Snow.

This is the first study to analyze 18-25 year old women oral contraceptives and bone density. It is critical for women to develop strong bone mass during their adolescence. Although women’s peak bone development occurs at the age of 16, women’s bones are still developing during their late teens and early twenties.

Oral contraceptives create a barrier in young women’s bodies, affecting their ability to fully develop high bone mass. Therefore, women who take birth control pills between 18 and 25 will have lower bone density than those women who do not take oral contraceptives, according to the study.

Low bone density could lead to Osteoporosis, a skeletal disease, affecting 44 million people in the United States, 80 percent of who are women. One of the best ways to prevent Osteoporosis is to for the body to build high bone mass during youth. Exercise and nutrition are also critical factors that influence peak bone mass.

The research examined 98 women in two groups; those who took oral contraceptives and those who did not. The researchers measured the women’s bone density at the hip, whole body and spine by Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry.

Their research, titled “Oral contraceptives use in young women is associated with lower bone mineral density than that of controls,” was published in “Osteoporosis International.”