Study: Hormone Therapy (HRT) & Alzheimer Disease Dementia


Hormone therapy and Alzheimer disease dementia: New findings from the Cache County Study.

Neurology. 2012 Oct 30;79(18):1846-1852. Epub 2012 Oct 24.


From the Department of Public Health (H.S.), Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY; Department of Psychiatry (J.C.S.B.), McGill University Faculty of Medicine, Montreal, Canada; Division of Research (R.A.W.), Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Oakland; Department of Sociology (J.W.), University of Memphis, Memphis, TN; Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (K.H., K.W.-B.), Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC; Departments of Nutrition and Food Sciences (H.W.), Mathematics and Statistics (C.C.), Psychology (J.T.), and Family Consumer & Human Development (M.N.), and Center for Epidemiologic Studies (C.C., J.T., M.N., R.M.), Utah State University, Logan; and Department of Mental Health (P.P.Z.), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD.



Observational studies suggest reduced risk of Alzheimer disease (AD) in users of hormone therapy (HT), but trials show higher risk. We examined whether the association of HT with AD varies with timing or type of HT use.


Between 1995 and 2006, the population-based Cache County Study followed 1,768 women who had provided a detailed history on age at menopause and use of HT. During this interval, 176 women developed incident AD. Cox proportional hazard models evaluated the association of HT use with AD, overall and in relation to timing, duration of use, and type (opposed vs unopposed) of HT.


Women who used any type of HT within 5 years of menopause had 30% less risk of AD (95% confidence interval 0.49-0.99), especially if use was for 10 or more years. By contrast, AD risk was not reduced among those who had initiated HT 5 or more years after menopause. Instead, rates were increased among those who began “opposed” estrogen-progestin compounds within the 3 years preceding the Cache County Study baseline (adjusted hazard ratio 1.93; 95% confidence interval 0.94-3.96). This last hazard ratio was similar to the ratio of 2.05 reported in randomized trial participants assigned to opposed HT.


Association of HT use and risk of AD may depend on timing of use. Although possibly beneficial if taken during a critical window near menopause, HT (especially opposed compounds) initiated in later life may be associated with increased risk. The relation of AD risk to timing and type of HT deserves further study.


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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.