Women after menopause receive no benefit to memory from estrogen therapy

Women after menopause receive no benefit to memory from estrogen therapy

A new study claimed that women who after menopause think that they might have a memory boost on taking estrogen therapy, they are pretty wrong. There is no evidence found so far between taking estrogen after menopause and improved thinking skills. In the study, researchers discovered no differences in mental ability of women after menopause when they took estrogen therapy for same.

Researchers of the new study examined about 570 healthy women, aged 41 to 84. The participants were randomly assigned to take estradiol or an inactive placebo every day. Estradiol is the main type of estrogen produced by women in their reproductive years. The women were categorized into two groups; one was early menopause group, while other was a late group. The participants also used a vaginal progesterone gel or placebo gel.

The participants were tested for their verbal memory and thinking skills at start of the trail, after 2.5 years and then five years later. The memory scores were next compared from three of the tests. It was found that women improved in verbal memory with practice that was with and without hormone therapy. Scores were the same for those with and without hot flashes, and for women who had a uterus or had a hysterectomy.

"There is no important benefit, there is no important risk cognitively associated with the use of hormone therapy over at least five years," said lead researcher Dr. Victor Henderson. He is a professor of health research and policy, and neurology and neurological science at Stanford University School of Medicine, in Palo Alto, Calif.

Henderson added the Women's Health Initiative found that hormone therapy among older women increased the risk for dementia in long run.

A report published in Eurek Alert revealed, "Contrary to popular belief, taking estrogen after menopause may not affect the memory and thinking abilities of healthy women no matter when the treatment is started. The research is published in the July 20, 2016, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology."

Millions of women take estrogen to treat hot flashes, night sweats and other symptoms caused by menopause. Estradiol is the main type of estrogen produced by women in their reproductive years. Previously, researchers thought estradiol benefitted memory and thinking in women soon after menopause but not later, called the "timing hypothesis".

The study showed that no change in cognitive ability was associated with estradiol in either early or late postmenopausal women. Compared to their starting scores, both groups of women improved in verbal memory due to practice. Scores were the same for women with and without hot flashes, and for women who had a uterus and those who had a hysterectomy.

According to a report in Fox News by Melinda Carstensen, "Estradiol is the most common estrogen made in the human body during a woman’s reproductive phase. During menopause, production of the hormone ceases, and these hormone changes have been linked to symptoms like hot flashes and memory decline."

Hormone therapy has proven effective for counteracting osteoporosis and improving vasomotor symptoms, Henderson said. However, its cognitive effects have been undetermined in older women— as previous larger, long-term studies have suggested a nil impact— and insufficient in younger women, as those study models have not been long term, randomized and controlled, the highest standard for scientific research.

Based on his team’s results, Henderson said women seeking memory improvement from hormone replacement therapy can infer that, from this study, there’s no indication of this benefit. But, he said, “If a woman is considering hormone therapy for other approved indications like moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms, concerns about adverse cognitive outcomes shouldn’t weigh into that.”


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