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Some studies have suggested that estrogen used by women to treat the symptoms of menopause also protects the brain. Experts also wondered whether using estrogen could reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease or slow its progression. However, clinical trials have not shown that estrogen can slow the progression of already diagnosed Alzheimer's disease.
One study found that women over the age of 65 who used estrogen with a progestin were at greater risk of dementia, including Alzheimer's, and that older women using only estrogen could also increase their chance of developing dementia.
Scientists believe that more research is needed to determine whether estrogen may play some role in Alzheimer's. They are trying to determine whether starting estrogen therapy around the time of menopause, rather than at age 65 or older, will protect memory or prevent Alzheimer's.
Possible Benefits of Participating in Research on Alzheimer's
In order for Alzheimer's research to be conducted, volunteers are needed. Patients or loved ones who join these studies have the first chance to benefit from treatments that have shown promise in earlier research.
Patients who volunteer also make an important contribution to medical science by helping doctors learn more about the condition. Although these trials may pose some risks, researchers take careful steps to protect their patients.