If you are thinking about using hormone replacement treatment to help your memory, a new study says you should forget it.
Researchers found that using estrogen after menopause did not improve memory. It did not matter when women took the estrogen or for how long.
The study looked at about 570 women ages 41 to 84. Half took a form of estrogen for 5 years, and the other half did not take any hormone. The women were also divided into two groups by age of menopause. One group of women were within 6 years of their last period. The other group had their last period at least 10 years before.
Half of the women also used a vaginal gel containing the hormone progesterone. The other half did not.
In the beginning of the study, the researchers tested the women on verbal memory and thinking skills. They tested them again at 2.5 years, and then 5 years later.
The researchers found that the women had the same memory results no matter which group they were in. Both groups improved their verbal memory with practice.
Hormone therapy has its risks, said Jennifer Wu, MD. Wu is an Ob-gyn in New York City. It raises the risk for heart attack and breast cancer. And another long-term study found that hormone therapy in older women raises the risk for dementia.
Wu said that hormone therapy should only be given to women with severe symptoms of menopause. And women who take it should have the smallest dose for the shortest amount of time.
"There is real risk to hormone replacement therapy with few benefits," Wu said.
Here are tips for a healthy menopause.
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