Harvard Women's Health Watch

By the way, doctor: Does hormone therapy cause dementia?

Q. The Women's Health Initiative found that hormone therapy wasn't helpful for avoiding dementia; there was some suggestion that it might even cause cognitive problems. Am I at risk for dementia by continuing hormone therapy?

A. You're right about the results of the Women's Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS), the largest clinical trial to date of the effects of hormone therapy (HT) on cognitive function and dementia. Women ages 65 to 79 took HT (estrogen alone or estrogen combined with a progestin) or a placebo. After four to five years, the researchers found that taking HT didn't improve cognitive function. Moreover, the women who took combined estrogen and progestin were twice as likely as the placebo takers to develop dementia.

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