Estrogen Reduces Risk of Alzheimer’s in Women
“Keep that estrogen level up, my lady” seemed like a great motto for American Academy of Neurology’s 59th Annual Meeting.
A study announced earlier this month at AAN’s 59th annual meeting shows that women who use hormone therapy before the age of 65 can cut their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. The study found that women who used any form of estrogen hormone therapy before the age of 65 were nearly 50 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia than women who did not use hormone therapy before age 65.
The research was conducted by Stanford University professor and AAN fellow Dr. Victor W. Henderson as a part of the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study, which is a sub-study of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). The WHI is one of the largest U.S. prevention studies of post-menopausal women. The study looked at prior hormone uses in 7,153 healthy women, who aged between 65-79 years, before they were enrolled in the WHI Memory Study.
Researchers followed the women’s cognitive health over an average of five years, during which only 106 of the total developed Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Dr. Henderson announced, “We found that it didn’t matter how old the woman was when she started hormone therapy, how long or recently she took it or what kind of prior therapy she used.” The reduced risk of dementia was seen only with prior hormone therapy, used before one’s enrollment in the study. Women who began estrogen-only therapy after the age of 65 or during the WHI Memory Study had roughly a 50-percent increased risk of developing dementia. The risk jumped to nearly double for women who used estrogen-plus-progestin hormone therapy.
Dr. Henderson also said that further studies are needed to support their findings and learn more about how hormone therapy can affect the long-term cognitive health of women who begin the use before age of 65.
American Academy of Neurology’s 59th Annual Meeting (in Boston April 28th – May 5th, 2007) and Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study press release.
NOTE: The study was/is funded by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and National Institutes of Health.
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