Estrogen is a vital hormone that plays a significant role in regulating the menstrual cycle and supports reproductive health in women. Besides influencing gender traits and sexual behavior, estrogen has broader effects on the body, such as protecting against cardiovascular diseases, bone fragility, and regulating brain temperature.
However, when women enter menopause and their estrogen production decreases, numerous changes occur in their bodies. These changes include an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and bone fractures, fluctuating temperatures, deteriorated sleep quality, mood swings, and memory loss. There is ongoing research on the roles of estrogen in brain health and memory disorders.
Recent studies from University College London suggest that estrogen may have a protective role in the development of memory disorders like dementia. Data from the British Biobank was used to analyze fertile years, hormone replacement therapy use, and surgeries related to reproductive health. The findings suggest that estrogen may reduce the risk of developing dementia by up to 40%.
While there is evidence suggesting that estrogen plays a protective role in brain health, there is no consensus on the association between hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and dementia. The conflicting findings can be attributed to various factors that can complicate large-scale studies such as confounding variables or unreliable self-reported information. Furthermore, the protective effects of estrogen may vary across different types of dementia. While it has shown to be protective against vascular dementia, its impact on Alzheimer’s disease remains inconclusive.
Despite these potential benefits of estrogen in brain health, there are also risks associated with HRT use such as an increased risk of breast cancer, venous thrombosis (blood clots), and cerebral infarction (stroke). Therefore, before initiating HRT treatment for any individual patient or group of patients with cognitive impairment or dementia-like symptoms should consider a careful evaluation of their overall health profile and risk factors.
In conclusion, while we have made great strides in understanding how estrogen affects our bodies over time through research like this one from University College London’s work on its role in memory disorders like dementia – more research needs to be done to understand how it affects our brains specifically.