Estrogen may be linked to higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease in women

Estrogen may be linked to higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease in women


A new study published in the article in The Journal of The North American Menopause Society has revealed a possible link between estrogen levels in women and their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. 

The study, published in Menopause, looked closely at the link between a woman’s reproductive life span indicating levels of endogenous estrogen exposure and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers.

Fluid biomarkers measure the physiological processes detected in fluids such as cerebrospinal fluid and plasma, which allows for diagnosis to take place at the stage of mild cognitive impairment. 

Currently, Alzheimer’s disease represents between 60 to 70 percent of all dementia diagnoses and roughly two-thirds of those are women.

The study, titled “Reproductive period and preclinical cerebrospinal fluid markers for Alzheimer disease: a 25-year study,” saw a small group of women without dementia being monitored over a 25-year period as they went through menopause.

Based on the results from the cerebrospinal fluid samples, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota concluded that a longer reproductive life was associated with increased levels of Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers in the preclinical stage of the disease.

Dr Stephanie Faubion, medical director of The North American Menopause Society, explained the association they found between the duration of the reproductive life span of a woman and the biomarkers of Alzheimer disease in the cerebrospinal fluid of women without dementia.

“This finding needs to be confirmed in larger studies but may be another factor contributing to the increased burden of Alzheimer disease in women that, at least in part, likely relates to ageing and the longer life expectancy in women compared with men,” Dr Faubion said. 

In Australia, dementia became the leading cause of death of Australian women in 2016, surpassing heart disease which has been the leading cause of death for both men and women since the beginning of the twentieth century.

In 2017, dementia remained the first leading cause of death of women. In 2018, roughly 219,000 Australians were diagnosed with dementia, with women more likely than men to have the condition. 

Two years ago, University of Queensland researcher and health biostatistician Dr Michael Waller found that women had 14 percent higher rates of death from Alzheimer’s disease than men.

In women, estrogen helps control the menstrual cycle, keeps cholesterol in control, protects bone health, and affects the brain’s moods.

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