New Study Adds More Evidence Linking Menopausal Hormone Therapy to Alzheimer’s Disease
Doctors Call for Warnings, Using Nutrition Instead
WASHINGTON, DC—A new study shows that hormone “replacement” therapy, frequently prescribed for menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) included more than 60,000 Danish women with no history of dementia prior to starting hormone therapy. The increased relative risk of developing dementia ranged from 21% for those using the treatments for no more than one year to 74% for those using hormones for more than 12 years. Women using hormones started them, on average, at age 53 and continued for 3.8 years. The diagnosis of dementia occurred, on average, at age 70.
The study confirms findings from the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study that showed that menopausal hormone treatments increase the risk of dementia and brain atrophy.
“This is more evidence that hormone therapy has major risks,” said Neal D. Barnard, MD, FACC, President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “There are much safer approaches to managing menopausal symptoms.”
The Physicians Committee is calling for stronger warnings about the risks of hormones and for greater awareness of a dietary approach. A combination of a vegan diet, reducing fat, and adding 1/2 cup of soybeans daily was shown to reduce moderate-to-severe hot flashes by 88%. All the “side-effects” of a nutritional approach are positive: weight loss and reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.