The ability to accumulate estrogen over time may reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in women.
A new study reveals that women’s Alzheimer’s risk may be linked to how much estrogen they store over time. Having additional children, using hormonal birth control, or receiving hormone treatment during menopause increases a woman’s lifetime estrogen exposure.
Weill Cornell Medicine and University of Arizona studies show that longer menstrual cycles are linked to greater cumulative estrogen. This may preserve gray matter in Alzheimer’s-affected brain areas, researchers say.
Dr. Lisa Mosconi, the study’s main author, says the menopause transition might make the female brain vulnerable, while other reproductive history events that increase estrogen exposure make it resilient. She’s a neurology associate professor at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City and the Women’s Brain Initiative director.
Researchers reviewed 99 women’s biographical histories, MRI scans, and cognitive tests for the study. Researchers compared 29 similar-aged males.
Postmenopausal or perimenopausal women exhibited considerably lower gray matter volume in Alzheimer’s-affected areas than males or premenopausal women. Women with increased estrogen exposure had more gray matter in key brain areas. Greater children and hormone replacement treatment were linked to more gray matter in key brain areas. The observational study, not a clinical trial, suggests that estrogen may protect the female brain.
Eva Schelbaum, a research assistant in Mosconi’s lab, states, “We want to go into the intricacies of these linkages between estrogen and gray matter volume by comparing surgical menopause and spontaneous menopause and by concentrating on particular forms of estrogen exposure, such as menopausal hormone treatment.” The objective is to understand why Alzheimer’s affects more women and how to lessen the risk.
Two-Thirds Of The People Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s
Two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women. The prevailing notion is that the condition is linked to estrogen depletion, although it may also be linked to women’s longer lifespans.
Estrogen influences brain development and behavior. It nourishes and protects the CNS. Menopause lowers