BOSTON (AP) _ Estrogen pills can protect older women from breaking their hips, according to a study published today that confirms earlier research.

Dr. Douglas P. Kiel of Rhode Island Hospital, whose study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that estrogen reduced the risk of hip fractures by 66 percent for two years after women take the hormone supplement.

The latest report was based on a review of 2,873 women who participated in a long-running heart study in suburan Framingham. There were 135 fractures among postmenopausal women who had never taken estrogen and 28 among those who had used estrogen.

Earlier studies have concluded that estrogen can prevent wrist and hip fractures.

An estimated 15 million to 20 million Americans, most older women, have osteoporosis. The brittle-bone condition is blamed for about 1.3 million fractures annually.