Hormone Replacement Therapy and cognitive health – Alzheimer's Society comment

New research into the cognitive effects of hormone replacement therapy has been presented at Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) in Chicago.

Today, research into the cognitive effects of hormone replacement therapy is being presented at Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC).

Researchers attempted to clarify why the seminal Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study’s results diverged from previous findings, which found that Hormone Replacement Therapy was beneficial to cognitive health.

The long-term effects of Hormone Replacement Therapy are not yet known.

The study found that Hormone Replacement Therapy is not associated with cognitive decline when:

  • Women have recently started the menopause
  • Women are non-diabetic

Dr Doug Brown, Chief Policy and Research Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, said:

'Healthy women who started taking HRT in their early fifties, shortly after menopause, can feel reassured, as this research suggests there isn’t a link to brain decline with taking HRT from this time.

'Although the women studied who started HRT post fifties did show declines in memory and cognition, the research didn’t go far enough to see whether this decline led to dementia. And other factors, like lifestyle, could be at play. For example, within this very study is evidence suggesting women taking HRT with type 2 diabetes could be at greater risk.  

'Although the results add to our understanding of how hormones can influence our risk of dementia, previous HRT studies have shown contradictory results.

'There are still many unanswered questions before we can fully understand risk reduction. But with one person developing symptoms of dementia every three minutes in the UK, this is an area our researchers are working hard on.

'So if you’re considering or going through hormone therapy you shouldn’t be over worried about increasing your risk of getting dementia. What we do recommend is to eat lots of fruit and vegetables and keep fit - following a healthy lifestyle and diet can lower your risk of Alzheimer’s, and type 2 diabetes.'

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