HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) and risk of Alzheimer's disease

Published 13 November 2007

Data from a number of large population-based studies have suggested that women who take oestrogen based hormone replacement therapy have a lower long-term risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

The 'Cache County' study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in November 2002, confirms these observations.

However, it is not clear whether HRT is having a direct effect on the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or whether women taking HRT are also doing other things to preserve their health that could be the actual factor reducing their risk.

Results of the Women's Health Initiative, a large study exploring whether oestrogen may delay or prevent Alzheimer's in healthy women are expected in 2005. Preliminary results showed that women taking a combination of oestrogen and progesterone experienced a small but still unacceptable increase in risk developing other conditions.

Until the final results are known, we cannot recommend that women who are not otherwise taking HRT should start on treatment simply to prevent Alzheimer's disease.

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