Today is a glorious day for women unnerved by headlines like “Hormone replacement therapy may increase dementia and Alzheimer’s risk, according to a new study”. Why? A team of researchers cared enough about women’s health to conduct a meta-analysis of over 50 conflicting studies investigating the disease's correlation with hormone therapy. And what they published in the Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience Journal is a huge relief for female hormone replacement therapy (HRT) patients. Taking bioidentical hormones early in menopause can cut dementia risk significantly.
If this information feels offbase, it's likely because just a few months ago we were dispelling the notion that HRT could cause dementia in women. Misleading headlines, like the one mentioned earlier, were trending despite the observational study’s inability to establish a scientific link between the two.
With many conflicting views on the topic, it’s difficult to know up from down as a layman. That’s what makes this new report so important. Researchers took it upon themselves to make sense of all the data to ensure women finally have the facts.
Estrogen & Brain Health
Before breaking down details of the study, it is important to understand the role estrogen plays in brain function and why it’s frequently prescribed as part of HRT. Estrogen protects the brain by promoting the growth and repair of neurons, increasing blood flow, providing anti-inflammatory effects and increasing serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. An imbalance can have a significant impact on mood, cognition and memory and is the cause of menopausal symptoms such as brain fog, depression and anxiety.
The analysis accounted for the experiences of over 6 million women and included six randomized control trials and 45 observational reports. The biggest takeaway? If you’re beginning to experience the hormonal dips that come with perimenopause, now is the time to start hormone therapy.
Peace of Mind
Among age-related diseases, Alzheimer's predominantly affects women, with nearly two-thirds of cases in the U.S. occurring in women. The reassuring news that HRT can be an effective prevention tool while also providing some sanity during the menopausal transition is a big win for women. This report also has the potential to dispel some of the unfounded fears and concerns surrounding HRT. So newsrooms, if you’re paying attention, can you do us all a favor and give the provocative, fear-mongering headlines a rest? Menopause is exhausting enough.
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