Estrogen HRT raised risk of dementia in large study

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When the press reported on the FDA stopping the "Women's Initiative study" on estrogen alone (Feb 2004), a double blind study with 11,000 participants, they informed us that the study was stopped because of a slightly higher risk of stroke among those taking estrogen alone and that the estrogen had neither worsened or prevented heart disease. I thought perhaps there might be more to the story and there was. They apparently found a significant rate of -estrogen caused- DEMENTIA in those women over 65 taking it and/or also, cognitive impairment. This was NOT reported in the news but can be found on the NHIBI.NIH.GOV website about this study. Excerpts from a couple of articles follow:

>>>> A separate report will contain information on probable dementia and/or mild cognitive impairment in the women age 65 and older who participated in the estrogen-alone WHI-Memory Study (WHIMS), an ancillary study of the WHI Hormone Trials. Preliminary data suggest that for the WHIMS participants who were on estrogen alone when compared to the women who were taking the placebo, there was a trend toward increased risk of probable dementia and/or mild cognitive impairment.<<<<

Premarin and Prempro were the medications, by the way, which were used in this (now halted) study.

From the "black box" warning to physicians:

>>>> In February 2004, the FDA additionally requested that manufacturers should include WHIMS data in the existing Black Box that contains WHI data on cardiovascular risks. WHIMS found an increased risk of developing probable dementia in postmenopausal women age 65 years of age or older during 4 years of treatment with oral conjugated estrogens plus medroxyprogesterone acetate compared to placebo. It is unknown whether this finding applies to younger postmenopausal women taking estrogen alone. FDA also advised manufacturers to add the WHIMS data to the clinical studies section, and to specify the lowest effective dose of their drug (or state that the lowest effective dose has not been determined).<<<<< 

This definitely may be the time to consider going another path to help menopause. The natural progesterone cream has never shown any side effects and works to halt unnecessary bleeding as well as to really diminish hot flashes.