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Medical News Today has reported that new research published in the journal Neurology shows that women who undergo hormone therapy within five years of menopause may have a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer's, while women who begin the treatment later may have an increased risk of forming dementia.
Peter P. Zandi, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins University, and his colleagues noticed conflicting reports about whether hormone therapy was a risk factor of the degenerative disease. They noticed that observational studies, which analyze subjects over a period of time, showed that there was a risk of developing Alzheimer's when taking hormone therapy, whereas clinical studies, which involve a control group taking a placebo, suggested that the menopause treatment increased the risk of developing the neurological disorder.
The researchers conducted a study in which they monitored 1,768 women - 1,105 of whom used hormone therapy - for 11 years. The study also kept track of when each woman started menopause.
Of the 1,1768 subjects, 176 developed Alzheimer's: 87 of these women utilized hormone therapy and the other 89 patients with Alzheimer's did not. Statistical analysis showed that using hormone therapy within five years of menopause, reduced the risk of developing the disorder by 30 percent. There was an increased risk among the women who started the therapy more than five years after into post-menopause if they used combined treatments of estrogen and progestin.
While the research does have implications for when a patient should undergo hormone therapy, the study authors reported that there needs to be further research conducted to find a concrete link between the timing of the therapy and the development of Alzheimer's.
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms like irregular periods, hot flashes and vaginal dryness are enough to determine when menopause has occurred, but sometimes doctors will conduct a blood test to check the levels of one's follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estrogen (estradiol).
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