Estrogen Therapy May Raise Alzheimer's Risk

Estrogen pills appear to slightly increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia in postmenopausal women, a study found, echoing recent findings involving estrogen-progestin supplements. The findings contradict the long-held belief that estrogen pills can help keep older women's minds sharp. Women who used estrogen faced a 38 percent increased risk of developing dementia or forgetfulness. Estrogen-only pills have also been linked to uterine cancer. Because of that, most women who take hormones at menopause have used combined estrogen-progestin pills, however even the combination pill has been found to increase older women's risk of breast cancer, strokes and heart attacks. Plus, it has also been linked to doubling the risk of Alzheimer's disease among older women.

Journal of the American Medical Association June 2004;291:2947-2958

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