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Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Estrogen Dilemma and Alzheimer's Disease Revisited


“Why did my primary-care physician give me an antidepressant when I could have had something simple, like estrogen?” she asked. “Why don’t they know?

+Alzheimer's Reading Room

Did you know, 68 percent of the persons that have Alzheimer's disease are women?
“Sixty-eight percent of all victims of Alzheimer’s are women. Is it just because they live longer? Let’s say it is, for purposes of discussion. Let’s say it’s just because these ladies get old. Do we just say, ‘Who cares?’ and move them into a nursing home? Or alternatively, maybe they are telling us something.” -- Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton
“These women thought they were losing their minds,” Brizendine said, describing the 40-to-60-year-old patients she began seeing when she opened the Women’s Mood and Hormone Clinic at the university in 1994. “In 1994 we didn’t have words for it,” she said. “Now we do. It’s called perimenopausal depression.”


Facts about estrogen and Alzheimer's disease
  • Estrogen is important to the building and maintenance of nerve networks in the brain from early on in life. Several studies are now pointing to the fact that estrogen may offer protection against Alzheimer's disease in post menopausal women. One study conducted on almost 90,000 postmenopausal women found that those taking estrogen had a significantly longer life and by the time of their deaths, the women on estrogen had a 40 percent lower incidence of Alzheimer's disease.
  • Estrogen docking sites are present in several regions of the brain, including those involved in memory (such as the hippocampus). When activated by estrogen, these sites, in turn, activate processes that are beneficial to the brain. In addition, estrogen may, in effect, raise levels of certain brain chemicals (neurotransmitters). These include the neurotransmitters acetylcholine (implicated in memory), serotonin (implicated in mood), noradrenaline (implicated in mood and other autonomic functions), and dopamine (implicated in motor coordination). Thus, estrogen facilitates networking between nerve cells, promoting their ability to "talk to" one another.
  • Menopause related memory and cognitive disturbances are being increasingly described in scientific literature and are generally responsive to estrogen treatments.

Estrogen Dilemma and Alzheimer's Disease
There is a great article in the New York Times magazine that I want to bring to the attention of women. Women that read this blog, their friends and children.

This article cuts across a broad spectrum of diseases, but is focused on hormones, estrogen and something called the timing hypothesis.
This proposition, that estrogen’s effects on our minds and our bodies may depend heavily upon when we first start taking it, is a controversial and very big idea. It has a working nickname: “the timing hypothesis.”
There are some very interesting hypotheses about the health of the brain and Alzheimer's in the article.

If the timing hypothesis proves right and estrogen really does protect brains and hearts as long as we start it "at the right time", the calculation only grows that much more important and complex.
“These women thought they were losing their minds,” Brizendine told me, describing the 40-to-60-year-old patients she began seeing when she opened the Women’s Mood and Hormone Clinic at the university in 1994. “In 1994 we didn’t have words for it,” she said. “Now we do. It’s called perimenopausal depression.”
“Why did my primary-care physician give me an antidepressant when I could have had something simple, like estrogen?” she asked. “Why don’t they know?”....

I am a man. But, it seems to me that all women ages 40-60 should be reading this article and research. Some women might be feeling like they are going nuts, and maybe they aren't.

The article does contain a lot of useful information about research and Alzheimer's disease.

Go here to read

The Estrogen Dilemma


Related content.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room