Replacement Therapy and Alzheimer's Disease
Hormone Replacement Therapy can do a lot of amazing things.
In the early twenty-first century, scientists are just exploring the tip of the
iceberg when it comes to the benefits of various hormone treatments, including
Estrogen, Testosterone, and Human Growth Hormone.
Although research has shown no evidence that Estrogen
Replacement Treatments can alleviate the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, there
is promising evidence that Estrogen Therapy can reduce the risk of Alzheimer's
disease in women, even women that are otherwise healthy.
As we all know, Menopause is a period of great Hormone
Imbalance. From puberty to menopause, women experience a fairly predictable
pattern of hormone levels, and their body ultimately benefits from this
stability. Upon Menopause, however, hormone levels start to change
significantly. Primarily, Estrogen Levels drop like a rock as the Ovaries
greatly reduce their production.
There are multiple symptoms associated with Menopause, and
they all have a negative impact on both life and health. Among these symptoms
Loss of Sexual Desire and Ability
These are the symptoms that women experience explicitly
during the period of Menopause. For the most part (with the exception of sexual
issues), these symptoms of Menopause dissipate slowly over time.
Long Term Symptoms of Hormone Deficiency
In recent years, however, researchers are discovering that
there are many issues related to Hormone Deficiency that put women at risk for
the rest of their lives. One risk that seems highly correlated with Estrogen
Deficiency after Menopause is Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's is a disease which is much more common among
women than men. The risk for a woman to develop Alzheimer's is almost double
that of a man. Of course, part of that increased risk is due to the fact that
women, on average, have a longer lifespan than their male counterparts, but
that only explains away a small portion of the difference.
Why do Women Get Alzheimer's More than Men?
In recent years, there have been a limited amount of studies
conducted regarding the connection between Estrogen Deficiency and Cognitive
Decline, but the research has been illuminating, to say the least. This
research suggests that the administration of Estrogen Hormone Replacement
Therapy can have a stimulative effect upon mental health in women, both
assuaging Age-Related Cognitive Decline and even postponing or reducing the
risk of Alzheimer's Disease.
For many patients, especially those that are experiencing
Estrogen Deficiency before Menopause, Estrogen Replacement Therapy can be
combined with Progestin in order to maximize the effectiveness and safety profile
of the treatment.
How Many People Struggle with Alzheimer's in America?
Alzheimer's is one of the worst medical issues plaguing
modern American society. It is estimated that four million men and women are
afflicted with Alzheimer's today. Considering that twice as many women as men
will experience Alzheimer's in their lifetime, this is a significant portion of
Nearly every person in America intimately knows someone that
has struggled with Alzheimer's, whether they had to take care of an immediate
family member, or were simply an acquaintance. A few years ago, several
research teams sought to answer once and for all, if Estrogen Replacement
Therapy could be a legitimate treatment option for women that are at risk of
Can Estrogen Treat Alzheimer's?
As a result of their research, they found that Estrogen was
ultimately not effective as a means to directly treat Alzheimer's Disease.
Although they were unable to establish Estrogen as a potential Alzheimer's
treatment, their research still strongly suggested that Estrogen Therapy could
reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's for women across the world.
Can Estrogen Prevent Alzheimer's?
There is potential that Estrogen Replacement could
significantly delay the onset of Alzheimer's Disease, or, at a minimum,
postpone the onset of the disease. Even if Estrogen only postpones Alzheimer's,
it could still be an amazingly useful tool in combination with other treatments
that would all but eliminate the risk of Alzheimer's Disease someday in the
The Benefits and Risks of Estrogen Replacement Therapy
There are countless women across America that have turned to
Estrogen Treatments as a means to relieve the symptoms of Menopause. Every
woman experiences Menopause in a different way, and some women are either more
sensitive to the changes that take place, or produce lower baseline levels of
Estrogen after Menopause.
Decades of research have proven the effectiveness of
Estrogen at reducing the potential tempest associated with Menopause, and
medical researchers have discovered powerful links between Estrogen Replacement
Therapy and a reduced risk of Osteoporosis.
Cautious links have also been made between Estrogen
Replacement Therapy and reduced risk of heart disease, although this link has
not been confidently established. For some women, however, Estrogen Replacement
Therapy can increase the risk of breast cancer, although the exact level of
risk is not fully discerned. Although there are certain risks involved with
Estrogen HRT, for a huge number of women, it seems likely and clear that the
benefits far outweigh the costs.
Before new research regarding memory and cognition, this was
essentially the state of play in regard to the potential benefits and risks of
Estrogen Deficiency and Estrogen Replacement. Today, researchers are becoming
keenly aware of the way that Estrogen and Estrogen Deficiency affect the brain
and mental health.
Estrogen and Acetylcholine
In research utilizing both laboratory animals and cultivated
brain matter, there is evidence that supports the notion that Estrogen has the
ability to protect and support the health of neurons in the brain. One means by
which it accomplishes this is by boosting resting levels of Acetylcholine in
Acetylcholine acts as a protective force in the brain, which
safeguards against the breakdown of brain tissue associated with Alzheimer's
disease. One of the physiological symptoms of Alzheimer's is that Acetylcholine
Levels drop significantly among patients that suffer from the disease. In
addition to this, Estrogen Replacement Therapy also seems to be able reduce the
rate at which Beta-Amyloids form in the brain.
What are Beta-Amyloids?
Beta-Amyloid is the primary actor which leads to the
physiological deterioration associated with Alzheimer's Disease. Although you
have probably never heard of Beta-Amyloid, you probably know what it is whether
you realize it or not. Beta-Amyloids are proteins which, when produced in the
brain, lead to the clumps of tangled Amino Acids which are referred to as
Estrogen Research in the 1990s
Before the turn of the century, there were only a small set
of studies regarding the connection between Estrogen Supplementation and
Alzheimer's. These studies suggested that Estrogen Replacement Therapy could
restore some memory and cognitive ability in women suffering from Alzheimer's.
The problem with these studies is that they were for the
most part small studies, and they also only evaluated patients over a short
period of time. Although the studies showed some promise, they were not
powerful enough to establish a significant link between Estrogen and the
improvement of Alzheimer's.
In the years following these initial studies, however, three
new studies were conducted which intended to explore these potential benefits
in a way that could more firmly establish the potential effects of Estrogen
Treatment on Memory and Alzheimer's. The biggest and longest of these studies
was released in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Testing the Hypothesis: Estrogen and Alzheimer's
This study was conducted by Ruth Mulnard of Cal-Irvine, a
representative of the Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia. This study had a
participant pool of 120 patients, half of whom had been discovered to have
Alzheimer's disease. Half of the women in both groups were treated with
Estrogen Replacement Therapy, the other half of both groups was treated with a
All patients received treatment for twelve months, and were
regularly tested for alterations in language ability, mood, memory, and other
cognitive abilities, in order to monitor any symptoms of cognitive decline. If
Estrogen Replacement Therapy were able to improve the function of patients with
Alzheimer's disease, then the treatment would cause women taking Estrogen to
decline more slowly than the patients that did not receive the treatment.
Estrogen Ineffective at Treating Alzheimer's
Sadly, results showed that Estrogen has no effect upon
patients that were already experiencing symptoms of Alzheimer's. Among the
ninety-seven women that finished the study, the women with Alzheimer's taking
Estrogen did not experience any improvement greater than placebo.
Two other studies displayed similar results, no conclusive
evidence that Estrogen could relieve Alzheimer's. Dr. Henderson, a medical
researcher from USC Los Angeles, said that he felt the studies were fairly
conclusive, and that Estrogen Therapy alone probably doesn't have any
significant benefits in regard to patients currently experiencing Alzheimer's
Estrogen May Benefit Alzheimer's Patients in Combination
with other Treatments
Although these studies appear to put that aspect of the
Estrogen-Alzheimer's Care debate to rest, that does not mean that Estrogen
Replacement Therapy does not have other beneficial effects. Even Dr. Henderson
feels that there may be a place for Estrogen Treatments when combined with
other forms of therapy.
There are researchers that feel that Estrogen HRT may have
beneficial effects when combined with a common Alzheimer's treatment known as
Aricept (scientific name: Donepezil). Estrogen shares an important aspect in
common with these common Alzheimer's medications: They all have the effect of
increasing Acetylcholine in the brain, and there is strong reason to believe
that Alzheimer's may have the ability to increase the effectiveness of these
other forms of treatment.
Today, there is a limited amount of data supporting this
hypothesis, but the data is promising. There have been two studies thus far
conducted with regard to Estrogen's ability to supplement existing Alzheimer's
treatments. Data-analysis after the studies were completed showed that a small
segment of participants were taking Estrogen Treatments in combination with
other forms of Alzheimer's medication. Although there were not enough women to
lend significance to the results, it does show a certain level of potential,
although we should be cautiously optimistic, perhaps.
Using Estrogen to Prevent Alzheimer's Disease
Although no studies today are able to confirm Estrogen
Replacement as a means to alleviate the effects of Alzheimer's, there are a
number of studies which provide evidence that Estrogen may be able to postpone
Alzheimer's in women that do not suffer from the disease. There is even some
hope that it may be a tool in Alzheimer's prevention.
In one of the most recent studies, 472 women were monitored
over the course of sixteen years of their lives in the Baltimore Longitudinal
Study of Aging. Although this study was not intimately concerned with Hormone
Replacement Therapy as an Anti-Aging Treatment, the study was performed in a
way which allowed a broad scope of analysis to be conducted.
Among the 472 subjects, there were a number which chose
Estrogen Hormone Replacement Therapy, while many others went without such
treatment. Looking back at the data, researchers found that women that chose to
utilize Estrogen during and after menopause experienced Alzheimer's disease at
half the rate of women that did not.
Small Pool of Participants Still Provides Promise
Although this research shows an immense amount of promise,
more work needs to be done in order to more accurately assess the viability of
Estrogen to Prevent Alzheimer's. At this point, the findings of the BLSA study
amount simply to an exciting observation: Estrogen may be one of the most
powerful tools that women have against both Alzheimer's and general Cognitive
Although we should be excited at such a prospect, we must
also realize that there are other factors which may be at play. Women that
choose Estrogen Replacement Therapy may experience these benefits for other
reasons not fully associated with treatment, including genetics or nutrition.
In addition to this, the reduced risk of Alzheimer's could also be the result
of other factors which help them live a healthier life.
In general, women that choose Estrogen Replacement tend to
be more conscientious about their health. Women that take Estrogen also tend to
have stronger health care plans which allow them access to better treatments
and health and wellness programs.
More Estrogen-Alzheimer's Studies Underway
Today, there are three more studies being conducted in order
to more clearly show the benefits of Estrogen Replacement Therapy in regard to
Alzheimer's. Of these three studies, two are being conducted by scientists in
the United States, and a third by researchers in Great Britain.
Because these studies were designed specifically to uncover
the potential benefit of Estrogen Replacement for Alzheimer's, they will be
able to declare, once and for all, the Effect of Estrogen on Alzheimer's
All three of these studies will be placebo-controlled and
double-blind in order to maximize the predictive value of the data. At random
intervals, the patients will be tested and analyzed for cognitive ability.
Researchers hypothesize that the combination of Estrogen and modern Alzheimer's
care will slow down the rate at which the disease progresses.
As we all well know, Alzheimer's is a dreadful disease for
which there is no known cure. If it indeed does have the ability to benefit
women with regard to Alzheimer's risk or treatment, then it will completely
change the way that we think about Estrogen Replacement Therapy in the future.
The Potential of Hormone Replacement
Even if Estrogen simply delays Alzheimer's or slows down the
rate of decline associated with the disease, it will likely become a
recommended treatment, especially for women that have a high risk for the
disease as a result of genetics or other factors. Even if the link between
Estrogen and Alzheimer's Prevention is weak, it will still significantly
broaden our knowledge of the disease and how it should be most effectively
Who Should Consider Estrogen Replacement Today?
Until the benefits of Estrogen for Alzheimer's can be fully
proven, women should consider Estrogen Replacement Therapy in regard to other
benefits that are more concrete, including cardiovascular health, Osteoporosis
prevention, and to relieve the harshness of Menopause.
Although conclusive evidence regarding Alzheimer's and
Estrogen Treatment are still years away, there are numerous reasons to consider
Estrogen for Your Health.