Previous studies have shown that women who take estrogen reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. But can estrogen also benefit women who already have been diagnosed with the disease? Apparently not, according to a study by a University of California-Irvine team just published in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association. In trial involving 120 women with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, the investigators found no difference between the group taking estrogen and the group taking the placebo. The estrogen did, however, provide short-lived improvement in cognitive performance. The results “strongly suggests that estrogen treatments should not be used to treat Alzheimer's,” said study leader Ruth Mulnard. But she adds, “Our study does not rule out the possibility that estrogen can help prevent the disease or treat it successfully in its very early stages."—Hakon Heimer
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- Mulnard RA, Cotman CW, Kawas C, van Dyck CH, Sano M, Doody R, Koss E, Pfeiffer E, Jin S, Gamst A, Grundman M, Thomas R, Thal LJ. Estrogen replacement therapy for treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer disease: a randomized controlled trial. Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study. JAMA. 2000 Feb 23;283(8):1007-15. PubMed.