Does Hormone Replacement Therapy Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

Just as many women are throwing out their hormone replacement prescriptions, an ongoing study has shown a link between prior use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. However, the data suggest that the benefits can take 10 years to appear, say researchers for the Cache County Study.

In this long-term trial, 1,889 women and 1,357 men were first assessed between 1995 and 1997. Between the initial interview and follow-up, 88 women (4.7%) and 35 men (2.6%) were found to have Alzheimer’s disease. Among those over 80 years of age, the risk for women was double that for men; however, in women who reported earlier use of HRT, the risk was 41% lower. Alzheimer’s disease developed in 26 of 1,066 women who had received HRT compared with 58 of 800 women who had never used HRT. The risk varied with the duration of therapy, and this sex-specific increased risk disappeared with more than 10 years of treatment.
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If the theory about the10-year lag time is correct, one of the study coauthors stated that “it explains a very large and seemingly conflicted literature” on the relationship between HRT and Alzheimer’s disease. The study findings corroborate other recent research suggesting that HRT may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.