Washington, Jan 13 (ANI): Hormone replacement therapy may lead to brain shrinkage in postmenopausal women, say researchers.
The study showed that volumes of brain lesions were not significantly increased among women prescribed hormone therapy, but that the total olumes of brain tissue in regions critical to memory were slightly smaller.
The research team found that women who had taken hormone therapy had slightly smaller brain volumes in two critical areas of the brain: the frontal lobe and the hippocampus.
Both areas are involved in thinking and memory skills, and loss of volume in the hippocampus is a risk factor for dementia.
"Our findings suggest one possible explanation for the increased risk for dementia in older women who had previously taken post-menopausal hormone therapy in the Women's Health Initiative Memory Study," said Susan Resnick, Ph.D., of the National Institute on Aging, which is part of NIH.
"Our findings suggest that hormone therapy in older post-menopausal women has a negative effect on brain structures important in maintaining normal memory functioning.
"However, this negative effect was most pronounced in women who already may have had some memory problems before using hormone therapy, suggesting that the therapy may have accelerated a neurodegenerative disease process that had already begun," she added.
Researchers will next set out to determine whether the negative effects of hormone therapy on brain volumes continue over time through follow-up MRI studies of the women studied. (ANI)