Hormone Therapy Does Not Improve Cognition or Memory

Study gauges the effect of estrogen/progestin therapy in newly menopausal women

MONDAY, Sept. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Combined estrogen/progestin hormone therapy in newly postmenopausal women does not appear to affect cognition, but may worsen memory, according to a report published in the Sept. 25 issue of Neurology.

Pauline M. Maki, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois at Chicago, and colleagues randomized 180 newly postmenopausal women to receive either oral estrogen/progesterone hormone therapy or placebo for four months. The study was terminated before reaching its target sample size of 275 women due to concerns about hormone therapy reported in the Women's Health Initiative.

There were no differences between groups in cognition or quality of life. Women in the hormone therapy group reported more sexual interest and improved vasomotor symptoms compared to the placebo group. Hormone therapy was associated with a trend towards worsened short- and long-term memory.

These results "indicate that hormone therapy was not associated with change in cognitive function versus placebo, but there were negative effects on short- and long-term verbal memory that approached significance and were small in magnitude," the authors write. "Although this is the largest randomized trial to date of hormone therapy and cognition in recently menopausal women, the lower than expected participation likely rendered this study underpowered to decisively distinguish between hormone therapy effects versus placebo."

The study was funded by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Collegeville, Pa.

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