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Estrogen pills may raise Alzheimer's risk

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Estrogen pills may raise Alzheimer's risk
June 23, 2004

BY LINDSEY TANNER
Source: Chicago Sun-Times

Estrogen pills appear to slightly increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia in postmenopausal women, a study found, echoing recent findings involving estrogen-progestin supplements.

The findings contradict the long-held belief that estrogen pills can help keep older women's minds sharp.

The results came from a government study called the Women's Health Initiative and were published in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.

The research involved nearly 3,000 women, ages 65-79, who had hysterectomies and had taken daily estrogen-only pills, sold by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals as Premarin, for an average of about five years.

Dementia was diagnosed in 28 women who took estrogen, compared with 19 taking dummy pills. Those results were not statistically significant because the numbers were so small, but the trend was troubling, said co-researcher Stephen Rapp, a professor of psychiatry at Wake Forest University.

''No matter which outcome we're looking at, there is no evidence of benefit,'' Rapp said. The pills offer ''no protection against dementia, and in fact the likelihood increases on hormone therapy.'' AP



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