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Does Estrogen Have a Role in Preventing Alzheimer's Disease?

Is there a relationship between estrogen and Alzheimer's disease?  Several studies suggest there is: and that there is a beneficial role for estrogen to play in Alzheimer's prevention. Menopause is believed to be a risk factor for Alzheimer's , but it is also an independent cause of impaired cognitive abilities in women.  There is no cure for Alzheimer's, but there are two medicines--tacrine and donepezil--which have been shown to relieve some symptoms.  Recent studies of Alzheimer's treatment in women suggest that estrogen, when given in combination with these drugs may improve drug effectiveness.  Other studies suggest that estrogen may delay the onset of disease symptoms.  We asked Dr. Robert Greene, an expert in this arena, to discuss this:

"Currently there are about 15 studies that have evaluated estrogen's ability to help prevent Alzheimer's disease and all of these studies agree that it seems to be a preventable illness.  This is particularly important, because treatments for Alzheimer's disease are routinely unsuccessful."

New research continues to address the issue of Alzheimer's prevention and treatment in general, as well as the specific role of estrogen.  Other studies suggest that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and Vitamin E may also offer some protection to the affected brain cells.

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Created: 11/14/2000  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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