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Hormone Therapy Around Menopause Can Significantly Cut Alzheimer's Risk: Study

Update Date: Oct 26, 2012 09:27 AM EDT

A new study suggests that if hormone therapy (HT) is given to women within five years of menopause, it could reduce the risk of them contracting Alzheimer's disease (AD).

Researcher Huibo Shao from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City and colleagues investigated if the timing or type of hormone therapy impacts its association with Alzheimer's disease.

The findings of the study add to the evidence suggested by earlier studies that hormone treatments taken around menopause may be more beneficial than just helping women cope with hot flashes and night sweats.

When researchers followed 1,768 women from the Cache County Study who provided a detailed history of age at menopause and use of HT between 1995 and 2006, they found that 176 of them developed incident AD during this time.

They found that using any type of HT within five years of reaching menopause had a significant 30 percent reduction in a woman's risk of contracting AD, especially if the Hormone Therapy was continued for 10 years or more.

No such reduction of risk was seen among women who started the therapy five years before or after going through menopause.

Women who began "opposed" estrogen-progestin compounds within three years preceding the Cache County Study baseline had an increased risk of AD (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.93; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.94 to 3.96), which was similar to that reported in randomized trial participants assigned to opposed HT, Medical Xpress reported.

"Association of HT use and risk of AD may depend on timing of use. Although possibly beneficial if taken during a critical window near menopause, HT (especially opposed compounds) initiated in later life may be associated with increased risk," the authors write.

"The relation of AD risk to timing and type of HT deserves further study."

"Our results suggest that there may be a critical window near menopause where hormone therapy may possibly be beneficial," Peter Zandi of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, one of the study leaders, was quoted as saying by Chicago tribune.

The study was published online Oct. 24 in Neurology.

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