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June 23/30, 2004

Estrogen and DementiaInsights From the Women's Health Initiative Memory Study

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Neurology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

JAMA. 2004;291(24):3005-3007. doi:10.1001/jama.291.24.3005

Alzheimer disease (AD) increases exponentially with age, with an annual incidence of approximately 0.08% at age 60 to 64 years, and more than doubling every 5 years to an incidence of 0.7% at age 75 to 79 years and 1.4% at age 80 to 85 years.1 Approximately 43% of people with AD are between 75 and 85 years.1 A substantial number of observational studies have suggested that hormone therapy decreases incidence or delays onset of dementia, primarily AD.27 Laboratory studies have shown that estrogen receptors are present on cholinergic neurons and have neurotropic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects.8,9 Estrogen deficiency in middle age has been postulated to account, at least in part, for the somewhat higher incidence of AD in women than men and may constitute a risk factor for AD.

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