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COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Many women use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to help ease the symptoms of menopause. However, a recent Danish study suggests the use of HRT may contribute to a higher rate of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The study analyzed data from Danish women between 50 and 60 years-old, focusing on the association between the use of combined estrogen and progestin therapy and the development of dementia. The results revealed a 24-percent increased rate of all-cause dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (the most common form of dementia) among individuals who received estrogen-progestin therapy compared to those who never used the treatment. The increased risk was observed in both long-term and short-term users, even in women who started treatment at age 55 or younger.

The study authors note that their findings were observational and couldn’t establish causation. Also, they did not differentiate between types of dementia or different administration methods of hormone therapy. The team also acknowledged confounding factors, as well as a potential predisposition to both menopausal symptoms and dementia among hormone therapy users.

“Further studies are warranted to determine whether these findings represent an actual effect of menopausal hormone therapy on dementia risk, or whether they reflect an underlying predisposition in women in need of these treatments,” the study authors write in a media release.

The Danish study highlights the potential association between menopausal hormone therapy (HRT) and increased dementia risk. While caution should be exercised in drawing definitive conclusions, the findings emphasize the need for further investigation. Researchers believe randomized clinical trials and advanced imaging techniques could provide valuable insights into the effects of hormone therapy on dementia pathophysiology, allowing for more informed decision-making regarding its use for menopausal symptoms.

The study is published in The BMJ.

These 7 healthy habits can help women lower their risk for dementia

Women are more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease as they age. While there are genetic factors that make some people more vulnerable to the most common form of dementia, a 2023 study finds there are still healthy lifestyle choices that can make a difference. Researchers working with the American Academy of Neurology say the more of these habits women engage in, the lower their chance of developing dementia gets.

These seven habits are part of the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7, which promotes both brain and cardiovascular health. The healthy list includes:

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