Saturday, January 14, 2023

HRT ‘may help prevent dementia’ in millions of women at risk

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researchers at the University of East Anglia in Norwich found that hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which helps control menopause symptoms, is associated with better memory, cognitive function, and larger brain volume later in life in women who carry a gene called APOE4.

Around a quarter of women in the UK are believed to carry this gene and Alzheimer’s is more common in women than men.

APOE4 is the strongest risk factor gene for Alzheimer’s disease, although inheritance of APOE4 does not mean someone will definitely develop the disease.

In a new study, researchers found that HRT was most effective when given during perimenopause — where symptoms build up months or years before the period actually ends — and could result in brains that appear several years younger.

Professor Anne-Marie Minihane of UEA’s Norwich Medical School, who co-led the study with Professor Craig Ritchie of the University of Edinburgh, said: “We know that 25% of women in the UK are carriers of the APOE4 gene, and that almost two-thirds of Alzheimer’s patients are women.

“In addition to longer life, the reason for the higher prevalence in women is believed to be related to the impact of menopause and the greater influence of the genetic risk factor APOE4 in women.

“We wanted to find out whether HRT can prevent cognitive decline in at-risk APOE4 carriers.”

The experts looked at data from 1,178 women taking part in the European Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention Initiative, which was set up to study the participants’ brain health over time.

The project, which involved 10 countries, tracked the brains of a total of 1,906 people over the age of 50 who did not have dementia at the start of the study.

For the latest research, experts examined the results of cognitive tests and brain volumes recorded by MRI scans.

The results showed that APOE4 carriers who also used HRT had better cognition and higher brain volume than those without HRT and non-APOE4 carriers.

Prof Michael Hornberger from UEA’s Norwich Medical School said:

“It is too early to say with certainty that HRT reduces the risk of dementia in women, but our findings underscore the potential importance of HRT and personalized medicine in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s.”

dr Richard Oakley, Associate Director of Research at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Studies of this type are important because they point to a link between HRT and changes in the brain.

“We need more larger-scale studies to better understand this association.”

It was one of the biggest news stories of our time – and it’s still not over. So what did Boris Johnson know about the infamous Downing Street parties? With fresh revelations from our source number 10, in their own words, listen to the inside story…

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