A series of 3 studies explored the hypothesis that the preponderance of spinal meningiomas among postmenopausal women relates to their higher prevalence of spinal osteoporosis: (a) medical records showed that meningiomas in women, unlike other spinal tumors, usually arise in the mid thoracic spine where osteoporotic vertebral fractures predominate; (b) radiographic evidence of osteoporosis was seen commonly with meningiomas but not with other spinal tumors; and (c) age-adjusted multivariate analysis of data from an interview study of 81 women with spinal meningioma and 155 random digit dial controls showed 6 factors related to risk. Four factors were protective: (a) current use (at diagnosis) of estrogen replacement therapy [odds ratio (OR) = 0.2; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.1-0.6]; (b) past use of oral contraceptives (P trend < 0.01); (c) past participation in sports (OR = 0.5; CI = 0.2-0.9); and (d) premenopausal status (OR = 0.2; CI = 0.1-0.7). Risk increased among women who had ever smoked cigarettes (OR = 1.7; CI = 0.9-3.1) or had a history of high dose radiography (> 500 mrad exposure to active marrow/examination; includes upper or lower gastrointestinal series and/or cardiac angiography; OR = 2.9, and CI = 1.6-5.3), although no association was seen with prior radiotherapy. Other results that did not support the hypothesis include findings that cases and controls were similar in mean body weight and in the proportion who had postmenopausal fractures or height loss. In conclusion, these studies lend some support to our hypothesis, but other known meningioma risk factors such as ionizing radiation also appear important.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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