November 24, 2010
by Elizabeth Kissling
So there’s a surge today in news stories about how hormone treatment for menopause (popularly known as ‘hormone replacement therapy’ or HRT) benefits the brain, apparently based on publicity over this study published in Hormones and Behavior. In media interviews, the researchers suggest that HT enhances the communication between left and right sides of the brain, making the older women’s brains more similar to those of younger women. The researchers had the women perform tasks designed to demonstrate fine motor coordination, such as tapping buttons with different fingers. Of the 62 women in the study, the 36 on hormone treatments showed higher levels of motor coordination, leading the researchers to conclude that hormone treatments, especially estrogen, “exert positive effects on the motor system thereby counteracting an age-related reorganization.”
Admittedly, I have not read the entire study, just the abstract and press summaries, but would you consider me too cynical if I suggested that the publicity this research report is receiving is more about promoting the use the hormones among menopausal women than the significance of the research findings?