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Postmenopausal Hormone Levels Not Linked to Changes in Cognition and Moods

Update Date: Nov 25, 2013 03:06 PM EST

When women go through menopause, which is the time in life when the body stops menstruating and hormone levels decline greatly, some of the symptoms involved include hot flashes and mood swings. In the first study to observe the effects of changing hormone levels on young and old postmenopausal women's cognition, researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine reported that reductions in women's hormone levels are not tied to changes in cognitive ability and mood.

The research team with lead author, Victor Henderson, MD, professor of health research and policy, and of neurology and neurological sciences, examined the data on 643 healthy postmenopausal women between the ages of 41 and 84. The data came from the Early Versus Late Intervention Trial with Estradiol. None of the women were on hormone therapy. The data was divided into two groups, which were women who had menopause less than six years ago and women who had menopause more than 10 years ago.

The researchers used neuropsychological tests to measure the women's memory and cognitive ability skills. The team also tested the women for depressive symptoms and levels of four hormones, which included estradiol, estrone, progesterone and testosterone. The researchers found that regardless of age, the hormone levels did not appear to be responsible for any changes in the women's moods and cognition.

"We found no significant link - positive or negative - in either group," Henderson said.

The authors outlined some of the study's strengths, which were "the large sample size for both early and late postmenopausal women, the examination of multiple sex hormones in the same population, and the use of a comprehensive neuropsychological battery that allowed for the assessment of different cognitive domains."

The researchers did notice that younger women with higher levels of progesterone tended to have better memory and cognition. However, the researchers stated that more studies would need to be done to confirm this link.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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