Science has been exploring the link between sub-optimal hormone levels in women—and more recently, men!—and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and other cognitive function diseases like the overarching category of dementia.
The results are in… When hormone levels are balanced, the risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Dementia can be significantly reduced.
An article posted in the National Institutes of Health suggests that non-optimal hormone levels, due to age-related changes, increases in the risk for AD.
Alzheimer’s disease, which represents 50-60% of the cases of dementia is characterized for its ongoing and progressive deterioration of cognitive skills—typically on-setting in middle age to later in life. Simply put: it means the brain experiences atrophy and loss of neurons.
In the NIH article, it notes that hormones like estrogen can play an important role in brain function—and that the loss of estrogen and testosterone can be associated with the cognitive decline that occurs in those with AD.
Women and Men
The science behind female hormone levels and the risk of developing AD has been extensively studied. Science Daily referenced a number of studies—particularly the largest study so far, of 230,000 women, noting that balanced hormones (from hormone therapy in those that require it) is associated with a decreased risk of AD.
“The protective effect of hormone therapy may depend on its timing: it may have cognitive benefits if initiated at the time of menopause when neurons are still healthy and responsive,” says Bushra Imtiaz, MD, MPH (who presented the results professionally during her Doctoral thesis).
Women make up about 2/3rds of Alzheimer’s disease cases. This is related to the hormonal changes that often come along with menopause—and explains why the risk of AD and dementia may be decreased for women who begin hormone therapy while pre-menopausal or at the onset of menopause.
Men—who represent 1/3rd of AD cases, however aren’t immune to AD or the risks of non-balanced hormone levels due to aging. University Health News noted that improperly balanced hormone levels (especially low levels of testosterone) affect the risks of AD. A large percentage of men with AD and dementia have depleted hormone levels.
BHRT and YOU
The change (and often decrease) in age-related hormone levels can play a significant part in both women’s and men’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s (and overall dementia). However addressing hormone level imbalances may significantly reduce those risks.
Hormone therapies are a broad range of treatments with a wide array of side effects. Here at Duke we firmly believe in Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT). BHRT reduces many of the side effects and offers a more time-effective treatment due to the fact that it generally only requires 2-4 treatments annually.
BHRT can also reduce the hormonal roller coaster or other hormone treatments, so there are less emotional- and energy-based ups and downs.
If you’re worried about your risk of Alzheimer’s, dementia or age-related cognitive functioning decline, and/or also have age-related hormonal imbalances causing difficult side effects and symptoms, we encourage you give us a call or come visit us. One of our professionals can assess your current hormone levels and come up with a solid plan on how to make you more comfortable, mitigate symptoms—and decrease your risk of hormone-related Alzheimer’s disease.