Alzheimer’s Disease: The Link Between Hormones and Cognitive Function
Alzheimer’s Disease, like many other diseases, the root cause is felt to be multifactorial. It’s approximated that 5.8 million Americans are living with AD, and unfortunately it’s projected by 2050, this number is expected to rise to a shocking 14 million. Interestingly, almost two-thirds of Americans with AD are women. There are a number of potential biological reasons as to why women are thought to be more at risk, including genetics, length of life, and possibly hormones, specifically estrogen exposure.
A recent study published in 2019 proved the association of estrogen exposure and AD risk. They found a positive association with longer exposure to either endogenous (hormone production from within your body) and exogenous (the use of hormone replacement therapy) and decrease risk of AD or cognitive decline. So essentially the older you are when you go through menopause is a good thing, and when you go through menopause, it could be beneficial in many cases to start hormone replacement therapy to prevent cognitive decline (of course under a doctor’s expertise, as there are certain patients to which it might be contraindicated).
Researchers found that it’s most helpful to start hormone replacement therapy to prevent cognitive decline within 5 years of the onset of menopause, versus later initiation of hormone therapy. This is why a functional medicine approach is so important at any stage of a women’s life. Hormone imbalance, even at a young age, may lead to consequences later in life, particularly decreased cognitive function. If you would like a functional approach to hormone balance, please feel free to reach out. We are happy to help!
-Amanda Patchett, FNP-C
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