"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Study: Common menopausal therapy may increase dementia risk

June 29, 2023 – Women of their 50s and 60s who took hormone alternative therapy had a 24% higher risk of developing dementia than women who never took hormone alternative therapy, in keeping with a brand new study.

The risk increased the longer women took hormone alternative therapy. In women who took the treatment for 12 years or more, the likelihood of dementia increased by 74%.

Hormone alternative therapy (HRT), which involves taking estrogen and sometimes other synthetic hormones, is especially used to treat menopausal symptoms akin to hot flushes. Previous studies have shown conflicting results about whether the therapy is preventative or harmful. Questions also remain concerning the impact of the age at which an individual starts treatment and the duration of treatment.

This latest study was published on Wednesday in The BMJ and evaluated data from all women in Denmark aged 50 to 60 in 2000. The researchers then used national health data registers to find out whether the ladies developed dementia over the next 18 years. To analyze a lady's risk, they compared the 5,589 women who were newly diagnosed with dementia with 55,890 other women of the identical age who didn't have dementia. This variety of study is named a population-based study, and the big, comprehensive nature of the study design is taken into account a strength.

The results contradict some previous studies that showed no increased risk of cognitive problems.

A critical editorial was published alongside the study and claimed that the research design had too many weaknesses for the questions it was intended to reply and subsequently didn't prove that taking hormone alternative therapy causes dementia. The editorial was written by Kejal Kantarci, MD, a professor of radiology on the Mayo Clinic, and JoAnn E. Manson, MD, MPH, DrPH, a professor of medication at Harvard Medical School. They suggested that future studies of the risks of hormone alternative therapy could possibly be improved by longer follow-up periods, randomized HRT treatments, and brain imaging.

In the Online comment section In a letter signed on behalf of all study authors by lead researcher Dr. Nelsan Pourhadi, the editorial states: While we agree that the study had limitations, its strengths raise the chance that hormone alternative therapy increases the danger of dementia.

“Consequently, we call for further research to clarify whether the observed association can be explained by a causal relationship. This remains uncertain but not unlikely,” Pourhadi wrote within the commentary.