HORMONES used in menopause medication could help protect women from dementia and Parkinson's, experts have claimed.

Medics in the US said women should not be discouraged from taking Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) as it could offer other benefits than just relief from the menopause.

Women had previously been concerned about taking HRT due to fears surrounding dementia.

This is due to a previous study that found women who took HRT had a 9-17 per cent higher chance of developing Alzheimer's.

Now a new study by the Mayo Clinic found that loss of oestrogen could accelerate the ageing of the brain and that HRT has no adverse effects on memory.

Researchers said the surgical removal of both ovaries was associated with a five fold increased risk of Parkinson's in women under the age of 43.

They added that the explanation could be due to the lack of oestrogen.

Lead researcher Dr Walter Rocca, of the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, US, said: "We can say that oestrogen has some neuroprotective effects and some possibly harmful effects on the brain.  

“The protective effects may be against vascular or degenerative processes. For example, it has been hypothesised that oestrogen may reduce the accumulation of amyloid in the brain.  

“The balance between positive and negative effects on the brain may vary by age and may depend on the presence of other diseases.”

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Writing in Jama Network Open, the experts said that every 53 women who have both ovaries removed will go on to develop Parkinson's or symptoms such as muscle rigitify or tremors.

They explained that replacing the oestrogen lost through HRT could be beneficial.

Another study published in September 2019 found that using HRT does not increase dementia risk.

HRT works by replacing the hormones that deplete during the menopause, including oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. 

The team, from the universities of Nottingham, Oxford and Southampton, looked at 118,000 women aged 55 and over who were diagnosed with dementia between 1998 and 2020.

Fabulous Menopause Matters

An estimated one in five of the UK’s population are currently experiencing it.

Yet the menopause is still whispered in hush tones like it’s something to be embarrassed about. 

The stigma attached to the transition means women have been suffering in silence for centuries. 

The Sun are determined to change that, launching the Fabulous Menopause Matters campaign to give the taboo a long-awaited kick, and get women the support they need.

The campaign has three aims:

  • To make HRT free in England
  • To get every workplace to have a menopause policy to provide support
  • To bust taboos around the menopause

The campaign has been backed by a host of influential figures including Baroness Karren Brady CBE, celebrities Lisa Snowdon, Jane Moore, Michelle Heaton, Zoe Hardman, Saira Khan, Trisha Goddard, as well as Dr Louise Newson, Carolyn Harris MP, Jess Phillips MP, Caroline Nokes MP and Rachel Maclean MP. 

Exclusive research commissioned by Fabulous, which surveyed 2,000 British women aged 45-65 who are going through or have been through the menopause, found that 49% of women suffered feelings of depression, while 7% felt suicidal while going through the menopause. 

50% of respondents said there is not enough support out there for menopausal women, which is simply not good enough. It’s time to change that. 

Their information, drawn from UK GP surgery data, was compared to almost half a million women who did not have dementia.

In each of the groups, 14 per cent of women used HRT for more than three years.

Overall, no increased risks of developing dementia were seen in menopausal women taking HRT, the authors said.

“This finding was consistent across different types of hormones, doses, applications, and time of hormone therapy initiation,” the authors said.

oestrogen-only therapy – usually only taken by women who no longer have a womb – appeared to be protective.

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It was linked to 15 per cent decreased odds of dementia among women younger than 80 who received treatment for at least 10 years.

Each year of treatment correlated with a 1.1 per cent decrease in risk.

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