Women who take HRT pills link to higher risk of Alzheimer disease


Women who take hormone replacement therapy to help relieve menopause symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats and mood swings have a higher risk of Alzheimer disease

A study of 170,000 women found that HRT was linked with up to a 20 per cent increase in Alzheimer’s disease risk.

This would mean that for every 10,000 women who take the treatments, an extra nine to 18 women would develop Alzheimer’s each year.

HRT eases the symptoms of the menopause, which commonly strikes in the late 40s and early 50s, by providing oestrogen as the body stops producing it.

While most doctors believe it is a safe treatment, a series of stories linking HRT to breast cancer 15 years ago drove down uptake.

Experts were quick to reassure women, to prevent a repeat of the cancer scares.

The study, led by the University of Helsinki, concluded that for most women the risk of Alzheimer’s increased only if they took HRT for more than a decade.

Among women who started taking HRT before 60 – the age at which treatment is most commonly initiated – usage of oestrogen-progestogen therapy surpassing ten years was linked to a 20 per cent increased risk of Alzheimer’s, and use of the estradiol-only version to a 7 per cent increase.

If women started taking the treatment after 60, the increased risk kicked in earlier, with less than three years’ use associated with a 20 per cent increased risk for oestrogen-progestogen and 13 per cent for estradiol.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, the team concluded: ‘Even though the absolute risk increase for Alzheimer’s disease is small, our data should be implemented into information for present and future users of hormone therapy.’





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