Endocrine System

Gain understanding of hormones in osteoporosis
Gain information literacy skills
Apply knowledge of science to problem-solve
Practice writing


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Endocrine System
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Information Literacy is an ability to locate, use, and evaluate information. Information literacy instruction in biological science courses helps establish a pattern of lifelong learning and critical assessment that will serve students during and beyond their undergraduate education.

Case Study: Osteoporosis
(by Lisa Rubin, University at Buffalo, State University of New York)

Eleanor, a 45-year-old perimenopausal woman, is considering hormone replacement therapy mainly to prevent osteoporosis. Lately, she has been experiencing severe hot flashes and nausea. In addition, her back has been sore on and off.

Eleanor has smoked for the past 20 years and has a family history of breast cancer and heart disease. Although she vows every New Year to quit her costly habit, she has yet to follow through completely. Two years ago, Eleanor’s mother underwent a double mastectomy after her struggle with breast cancer. The experience was a slap in the face for Eleanor and she vowed to take better care of herself. Aside from smoking, she eats healthier now and doesn’t drink. Her husband is an avid walker, and every morning before work they both walk around the park with Tosha, the family Labrador.

Everywhere she turns, Eleanor is reading about hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and women’s health. Although she worries how her body will respond to HRT, she doesn’t want to risk her bone health like her 58-year-old neighbor, Janice. Janice refused her doctor’s advice about taking HRT a few years back and now walks with a cane. Eleanor has lately felt the pressure building to make a decision about HRT. She wants to stay healthy for her husband and 25-year-old son, Chad, but is unsure of the consequences of HRT. She’s heard that it might have some bad effects.


You must be capable of defining osteoporosis and its general effects on the body. Ultimately, you must address the question troubling Eleanor — should she start hormone replacement therapy — considering the risks and benefits of her choice. You should research the literature (scientific articles and/or popular literature to answer below questions). Provide citations/links to the resources that you used for each question.

To cite scientific papers follow below format (or any other format that you are familiar with – biology journals follow many different styles so there is no point in memorizing particular style/format):

Stevenson, John C. “Long-term benefits and risks of HRT (Section 11): Osteoporosis.” Post Reproductive Health 22.2 (2016): 92-94.

*Scientific papers and reviews are the best source for deeper analysis and up to date information (science evolves quickly!). One of the quick ways to find reputable scientific literature is to go to Google Scholar
(Links to an external site.)
or here: https://libguides.stthomas.edu/c.php?g=88620&p=572316
(Links to an external site.)
. In Google Scholar you can generate citations quickly by clicking on “cite” below the reference that interests you.

*For definitions and well known phenomena textbooks and encyclopedias are a great source. One reputable Encyclopedia with great coverage of topics is Encyclopedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/
(Links to an external site.)

*Many other excellent resources are available here: http://libguides.stthomas.edu/biology
(Links to an external site.)

Questions (answer all of the below questions and submit your answers electronically):


Define perimenopausal.
Explain how menopause affects a woman’s hormonal levels.
Explain how estrogen affects calcium levels in bones.
Explain how smoking affects estrogen levels. How does this in turn affect calcium levels?

Prevention and Treatment – HRT

What is HRT? Who is it intended for?
Based on medical studies, what are the pros and cons of HRT?

Options Other than HRT

Describe at least two other options available to men and women to help prevent and/or treat osteoporosis.

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