Most older people are more scared of developing Alzheimer’s disease than dying. Death is inevitable, but Alzheimer’s disease robs a person’s spirit and personality while allowing the body to stay around.
Besides losing that sense of self, a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease means loved ones and eventually, healthcare providers will take on the burden of caring for you.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Estrogen
Women going through menopause experience various side effects, both physical and emotional. Common problems include “brain fog,” which affects a woman’s ability to think clearly. Memory loss may also occur. Females are at a much greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than males.
Approximately two-thirds of Alzheimer’s patients are women. The loss of estrogen following menopause may contribute to this huge discrepancy.
Researchers have found that estrogen, administered in early menopause, may reduce the accumulation of amyloid-B. These peptides are the primary component of the amyloid plaques found in patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. These plaques destroy nerve cells. Estrogen may also protect the brain’s neurons.
While a large Finnish study found that the use of hormone therapy cut a woman’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in half if she used this therapy for 10 years or more, age is a critical factor. Women starting therapy by their early 50s received much more benefit than older women.
GABA and Alzheimer’s Disease
Estrogen is not the only hormone playing a role in cognitive function. Gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, is a neurotransmitter aiding brain cell communication. Studies reveal that older adults with lower GABA levels do not perform as well on cognitive tests as those with higher levels of this hormone.
The Critical Window
So, if a woman wants to do as much as she can to prevent the scourge of Alzheimer’s, when does she start BHRT? It appears beginning BHRT as soon as menopausal symptoms occur provides the best results.
Some women sail through menopause with no symptoms other than cessation of periods, but they are the exception. Menopausal symptoms, all of which BHRT may alleviate, include:
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Loss of libido
- Mood swings
- Weight gain
It seems especially crucial to start BHRT as soon as possible if menopausal symptoms include cognitive disorders. “Brain fog” might indicate a person at greater risk for eventual Alzheimer’s development.
BHRT vs. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Of course, women do not want to develop Alzheimer’s disease, but they also do not want to come down with breast cancer or experience cardiac issues. They may have heard that HRT increases these risks. BHRT is not the same as standard HRT, which is made from pregnant mare’s urine. BHRT, from plant sources, is molecularly identical to the hormones produced by a woman’s body, and does not pose the increased breast cancer and heart disease risks of HRT.
A Holistic Approach
BHRT may help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, but protecting yourself from future dementia requires a holistic approach. Activities that promote brain health include:
- Regular exercise
- Stress management – lowering the stress in your daily life as much as possible
- Healthy diet – good nutrition focusing on fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, with avoidance of processed or “junk” foods.
Contact Dr. Jacobson Today
If you are interested in learning more about BHRT and Alzheimer’s prevention, call the offices of Dr. Edward Jacobson today and arrange a consultation.