Author: Karen Largent
Published on: October 21, 1997
Estrogen is a hormone found in the female reproductive
system. It has been found to have many beneficial effects
on brain cells. The majority of estrogen is produced
by the ovaries. Men also produce it by changing testosterone
into estrogen. Production of this hormone in men may
account for the fact that AD is much less common in
men than women. Two to three times as many women as
men develop AD. The onset of symptoms is delayed up
to ten years in men also. Alzheimer's affects 70% of
women over the age of 80.
The most commonly prescribed estrogen replacement drug
is Premarin. When a woman reaches menopause, estrogen
production is greatly reduced, placing a woman at risk
for several serious health problems. An increased risk
of developing Alzheimer's is one of those risks.
In June of this year, results were published from the
largest study on estrogen and Alzheimer's done so far.
The Johns Hopkins Medical Centers in conjunction with
the National Institute of Aging completed a 16-year
study of estrogen and AD.
The study followed 472 women. 45% of these women were
taking estrogen replacement therapy (ERT). Of the 45%
taking ERT either orally or by a skin patch, nine developed
Alzheimer's. Of those not taking ERT, 25 developed AD.
This suggests that women taking estrogen had a 54% decrease
in their risk of getting AD.
Estrogen stimulates the growth of nerve cells in the
brain that are associated with learning and memory.
In other studies done, women placed on an estrogen patch
showed an increased ability to remember things. The
greater the dose given, the greater the improvement.
OPINION-DR. JAMIE EBERLING