Could HRT Protect Against Alzheimer's?
Research suggests hormone replacement therapy could delay the onset of dementia
According to recent reports, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s in millions of women.
The study involved 63 postmenopausal women who had been receiving hormone replacement therapy and looked at the relationship between the genetic variant APOE-e4, HRT and telomere length, an indicator of cell aging. APOE-e4 is a gene that is known to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and previous studies have hinted at a link between telomere length, cognitive decline and the disease.
With past research also highlighting a possible relationship between oestrogen exposure and longer telomeres, the researchers set about looking at two related questions. The first – whether carrying the APOE-e4 gene is associated with accelerated cell ageing indicated by the length of telomeres? The second - whether or not HRT could protect against the damage?
What were the findings of this study into hormone replacement therapy?
The study found that post-menopausal women who carried the APOE-e4 gene had around 6 times higher odds of telomeres shortening. Women who carried the gene showed less reduction in the
length of telomeres if they stayed on HRT and those who did not carry the gene showed less reduction in telomere length when they stopped taking the treatment.
While the study appears to have found a connection between the gene APOE-e4 and the rate at which telomeres shorten, a biological sign of cell ageing, it does not show that hormone replacement therapy can actually prevent Alzheimer’s Disease in those who carry the gene. The reports published in several newspapers exaggerate the findings, and with only a small sample studied further research is expected.
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- May 13th 2020
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