In a study from the University of East Anglia and elsewhere, scientists found that hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) could help prevent Alzheimer’s Dementia among women at risk of developing the disease.
They found that HRT use is linked to better memory, cognition and larger brain volumes in later life among women carrying the APOE4 gene—the strongest risk factor gene for Alzheimer’s disease.
The team also found that HRT was most effective when introduced early in the menopause journey during perimenopause.
In the study, the team analyzed data from 1,178 women participating in the European Prevention of Alzheimer’s Dementia initiative—which was set up to study participants’ brain health over time.
The project spanned 10 countries and tracked participants’ brains from ‘healthy’ to a diagnosis of dementia in some. Participants were included if they were over 50 and dementia-free.
The research team studied their results to analyze the impact of HRT on women carrying the APOE4 genotype.
They found that HRT use is associated with better memory and larger brain volumes among at-risk APOE4 gene carriers.
The associations were particularly evident when HRT was introduced early—during the transition to menopause, known as perimenopause.
This is very important because there have been very limited drug options for Alzheimer’s disease for 20 years and there is an urgent need for new treatments.
The team says the effects of HRT in this study if confirmed in an intervention trial, would equate to a brain age that is several years younger.
Although it’s too early to say for sure that HRT reduces dementia risk in women, these results highlight the potential importance of HRT and personalized medicine in reducing Alzheimer’s risk.
The next stage of this research will be to carry out an intervention trial to confirm the impact of starting HRT early on cognition and brain health. It will also be important to analyze which types of HRT are most beneficial.
For more information about nutrition and dementia, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce the risk of dementia, and tea and coffee may help lower your risk of stroke, dementia.
The study was conducted by Prof Anne-Marie Minihane et al and published in the journal Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy.
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