Hormone therapy hastens brain mass loss: study

WASHINGTON - Hormone treatments commonly used by menopausal women appear to accelerate brain shrinkage, according to two new studies released on Monday.

By (AFP)

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Published: Tue 13 Jan 2009, 10:44 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 8:39 AM

The research, appearing in the January 13 issue of the medical journal Neurology, showed greater than typical brain tissue loss in women 65 and older.

Previous studies showed that older women on progestin-based drugs had decreased thinking skills and memory, and were more likely to suffer from dementia and brain diminished function.

Doctors long had believed that the impairment had been caused by tiny vascular brain lesions caused by hormonal treatments.

But the new research using MRI scans of women's brains appears to show a reduction in brain tissue in regions critical to memory for women who used the hormones.

'Our findings suggest one possible explanation for the increased risk for dementia in older women who had previously taken post-menopausal hormone therapy,' said Laura Coker of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, a lead researcher on one of the studies.

A second study found that women who had taken hormone therapy had slightly smaller brain volumes in the brain's frontal lobe and the hippocampus -- both critical areas for thinking and memory skills.

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