A European study recently published in the scientific journal Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy showed that taking hormone replacement therapy can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in women who have the APOE4 gene linked to the development of the disease. The research, which was conducted through observational models and examinations of women older than 50 who started hormone replacement without a dementia diagnosis, is preliminary but seen as promising in terms of finding ways to prevent the disease. .
Previous studies had already shown that women had a higher risk of dementia than men and that a decrease in estrogen during menopause was a possible factor that accelerated the progression of the disease. From this, in this new research, the scientists sought to analyze whether estrogen replacement during menopause in women with APOE4 reduces their chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease. It is estimated that one in four women have the gene.
In Brazil, around 1.2 million people live with some form of dementia and 100,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, according to the Ministry of Health. Experts point out that the disease caused by the degeneration and death of brain cells is irreversible and gradual, so prevention is the best approach.
Science has not yet found effective formulas to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. So far, what is known is that keeping an active mind, an active social life, good eating habits and regular physical activity can help delay or inhibit the disease, but there are no conclusive data. Discovering the link between the disease and estrogen, a hormone with neuroprotective functions, should guide further research in the coming years.
The research team developed by the University of East Anglia in England analyzed data from the Brain Health Study that is already being carried out by the European Union for the Prevention of Alzheimer’s Dementia. In total, the brains of 1,906 people (including 1,178 women) over the age of 50 in 10 countries who did not have dementia when they joined the project were analyzed.
Participants underwent cognitive tests, MRIs, and brain volumes. From this, it was possible to see that women who underwent menopausal estrogen replacement therapy – a common treatment to control the symptoms of this period of hormonal changes in a woman’s body – had better indicators of neurological health, such as better memory, better cognitive function, and larger brain volumes over time.