Blood estrogens were measured in women free of dementia aged 65 or older. After a four-year follow-up, 543 women who did not have dementia were compared with 132 women who had dementia. Scientists looked at a number of risk factors for dementia, including diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal blood clotting and other heart health risk factors. The study found that the risk of dementia more than doubled for women who had high estrogen levels after accounting for other dementia risk factors. For those who had high estrogen levels and diabetes, the risk for dementia increased dramatically, by 14 times.
Estrogen levels were about 70 percent higher in women with diabetes who also had dementia compared to those without dementia. No other heart health risk factors raised the dementia risk. “These results are surprising, given the expected brain protective effects of estrogen-based therapy,” said study author Pierre-Yves Scarabin, MD, with the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Villejuif, France. “However, more and more evidence suggests an association between high estradiol levels and dementia in women who have undergone menopause. Considering the expected increase in the number of elderly people with diabetes and dementia, more research on this topic should be urgently conducted.” The research was supported by INSERM, the Victor Segalen-Bordeaux II University, Sanofi-Aventis, Foundation for Medical Research, National Health Fund for Employees, Directorate General of Health, MGEN, Institute of Longevity, Regional Councils of Aquitaine and Bourgogne, Foundation of France, and the National Agency of Research. To learn more about dementia, please visit www.aan.com/patients
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