Combined hormone replacement therapy boosts stroke, dementia

Last March, a multi-center national study made headlines by concluding that taking a combination of the hormones estrogen and progestin did not improve the quality of life for women who are free of menopause-related symptoms but did expose them to a slightly higher risk of heart attacks, strokes and breast cancer. For that reason, many medical scientists began recommending against the combined therapy in the absence of such symptoms, saying the risks of estrogen plus progestin outweighed the benefits.

Caffeine and Estrogen Affect Parkinson's Disease Risk in Postmenopausal Women

Women who consume little or no caffeine, but who take hormone replacement therapy, may reduce their risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, according to a study published in the March 11 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology. However, HRT may increase disease risk in women who drink the equivalent of more than five cups of coffee per day.

Easing Menopausal Symptoms With Soy

In the wake of recent reports showing a correlation between hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and serious illnesses such as stroke, breast cancer and heart disease, many women are looking elsewhere for treatment options for their menopausal symptoms. According to Duke OB/ GYN Claude Hughes, M.D., soy can be effective in treating some of the symptoms of menopause, which are caused by declining levels of estrogen. The most common symptoms include hot flushes (flashes), night sweats, mood swings, depression, forgetfulness, insomnia, as well as thinning of vaginal tissues and stress incontinence.

No brain benefit from hormone therapy in women with heart disease

Another menopausal myth is challenged: Women with existing coronary disease do not realize improvement in their cognitive function as a result of taking the most common form of hormone replacement therapy, a UCSF study has found. Investigators followed more than 1000 women from ten US test sites for four years. Half took a placebo; the other half took hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Although other, smaller studies have shown an improvement, in the UCSF study the women who received HRT performed no better on standard tests of cognitive function than those who received placebo.

Animal studies confirm hormone replacement can improve learning

For estrogen to enhance learning and memory, nerve cells in the brain called cholinergic neurons are essential to the process, suggest animal studies performed by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. “Estrogen replacement in postmenopausal women has important effects on mood and cognition. This research was focused on trying to understand what estrogen does in the brain to reduce the effects on brain aging and cognitive decline,” said Robert Gibbs, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy.