Hormone therapy may reduce Alzheimer's

Hormone therapy may reduce Alzheimer's

Hormone replacement therapy may slow down brain ageing in middle-aged women vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease, a new study has found. The study found healthy menopausal women who carried a well-known genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s did not experience a decline when they took HRT.

The gene variant, known as ApoE4, has been shown to accelerate biological ageing, making people more likely to contract age-related illnesses, The Telegraph reported.
Researchers found that about one in five women carried a gene that made them more susceptible to dementia. But HRT appears to protect the DNA and effectively slows down ageing. “This shows that [the gene] is contributing to ageing at the cellular level well before any outward symptoms of decline become apparent,” Dr Natalie Rasgon of Stanford University School of Medicine in California, said.?

“Yet oestrogen appears to have a protective effect for middle-aged women who are carrying this genetic risk factor,” Rasgon said.

HRT is normally prescribed to menopausal women in their fifties to combat symptoms such as hot flushes and mood changes, although it also protects bones. The drug has also been shown to cut heart attacks among women in their fifties. However, doctors warn that using the treatment for long periods can increase the risk of breast cancer.

The study involving 70 healthy women aged 45 to 65 did not follow them long enough to find out which ones developed Alzheimer’s. However, over a two-year period it looked at changes in their cells that denoted ageing.

Researchers looked for changes in the length of what are known as telomeres, which are repeated sequences of DNA that “cap” the end of chromosomes.They act rather like the plastic caps on shoelaces — protecting genetic material from damage that can lead to age-related diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer’s.

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