Hormonal Changes and Cognitive Decline
For many years hormone imbalance and cognitive decline have been correlated with one another, largely due to the fact that both of these issues are most commonly to happen in advanced age. In the past five years several studies have been released indicating that in fact the link between these two conditions is much more direct than was originally understood. It has been found that hormonal fluctuations, specifically the drastic changes in estrogen levels that so often occur in women during menopause, may directly increase an individual’s risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The finding has put a new appreciation on bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, a leading form of antiaging treatment that can actually stabilize hormone fluctuations. While this therapy has long been understood to alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause, there is now reason to believe that BHRT can actually reduce a woman’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease as a result of hormone fluctuations.
Researchers from Columbia University Medical Center were one of the first to draw this distinction. The researchers suggest that this information is highly important for those who have a family history of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and that hormonal treatments like bioidentical hormone replacement therapy should be recommended for those who are at a heightened risk for developing these conditions.
Another study completed a year later echoed these results. In 2012, the Framingham Heart Study was published. This study followed more than 800 participants for about 13 years. In this longitudinal study the researchers evaluated different aspects of health, including hormone levels and the correlation to different chronic diseases as they developed. 159 of the participants in the study developed dementia. Of those 159 participants, virtually all were found to have heightened levels of adiponectin, a hormone that is intended to be helpful by helping the body use insulin in the delivery of fuels like glucose to cells throughout the body. The hormone is useful, except when there is too much of it.
This is the problem with hormone fluctuations. It isn’t always that hormones are missing, sometimes the hormone levels are too high as a result of another missing hormone that isn’t able to keep them in balance. Researchers were surprised by the finding, as adiponectin is supposed to be a useful hormone, but the findings indicated clearly that the fluctuations of the other hormone resulting from the heightened level was a clear risk factor in the development of dementia.
Like the study out of Columbia University, the link was strongest in women.
Hormone fluctuations are a natural occurrence with age. They typically begin in the mid-to-late forties, though some will begin experience changes in hormone levels as early as age 35. Hormone fluctuations cause a series of uncomfortable symptoms, including everything from weight gain, to decreased sexual interest, to hair loss. Many people have turned to bioidentical hormone treatment in the past as a way to ease these symptoms, but now there is evidence to believe that using bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can actually reduce your risk of developing dementia in addition to easing the common symptoms of menopause.
Being aware of these connections and being proactive about your health can make all the difference when it comes to enhancing quality of life as you age.