Here’s another reason to think twice about using hormone therapy to treat hot flashes and other symptoms. New information links the treatment to brain shrinkage in women aged 65 and older.
Two studies in the journal Neurology used MRI scans to analyze the brains of women aged 71 to 89.
A previous study had shown that the hormones increased the risk of cognitive decline and dementia and for women in this age group. The new studies revealed that specific areas of the brain critical for memory storage, memory retrieval and thinking were smaller in these women compared to those given a placebo. Overall brain size was also slightly lower.
The researchers stress that these effects were most pronounced in the women who already had some memory problems, which means the hormone therapy may be accelerating a disease process that has already begun.
They say these findings confirm their earlier recommendations: that women over 65 should not begin hormone therapy at all because the risks outweigh possible benefits.
As for younger women, these scientists say it’s okay to go ahead if the treatment is really necessary. But it should taken at the lowest dose, for the shortest duration possible.