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Hormone Therapy Linked to Reduced Brain Size

No changes in ischemic brain lesion volume observed

TUESDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Postmenopausal women receiving hormone treatment have reductions in brain volume and cognitive deficits, although there are no significant changes in ischemic brain lesion volume, according to two studies published in the Jan. 13 issue of Neurology.

In the first study, Susan M. Resnick, Ph.D., from the National Institutes of Health in Baltimore, and colleagues compared brain MRI scans from 1,403 postmenopausal women who were participating in a randomized trial of placebo or conjugated equine estrogens with or without medroxyprogesterone acetate. They found that women receiving hormonal therapy had significantly lower covariate-adjusted mean frontal lobe volume and mean hippocampal volume, while total brain volume approached being significantly lower.

In the second study, Laura H. Coker, Ph.D., from Wake Forest University Health Sciences in Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues measured subclinical vascular cerebrovascular disease by MRI in the same group of women as the first study to determine whether this could explain the cognitive decline observed in previous studies of these women. They found that women receiving hormonal therapy had similar or slightly higher mean ischemic volumes.

"Conjugated equine estrogens with or without medroxyprogesterone acetate are associated with greater brain atrophy among women aged 65 years and older; however, the adverse effects are most evident in women experiencing cognitive deficits before initiating hormone therapy," Resnick and colleagues conclude.

The randomized trial in both studies was partially funded by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. An author from the first study reports a financial relationship with the pharmaceutical industry.

Abstract - Resnick
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