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Estrogen and delayed onset of Alzheimer's disease

August 16, 1996

NIA Press Office | 301-496-1752 | nianews3@mail.nih.gov

National Institute on Aging (NIA)-supported scientists at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center suggest that estrogen therapy taken by post-menopausal women may significantly delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Results of the study appear in the August 17 issue of The Lancet.

This is the latest and best epidemiological study indicating that the use of estrogen may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease. However, a clinical trial is needed before we can determine whether to recommend that women take estrogen to delay or prevent Alzheimer's, says Neil Buckholtz, Ph.D., acting associate director, neurosciences program, NIA.

The 5-year study of women age 70 and older found that among 156 women who used estrogen for 2 months to 49 years, nine developed Alzheimer's; while among 968 women who never used estrogen, 158 developed the disease over the course of the study. During each year of the study, 2.7 percent of study participants who took estrogen developed Alzheimer's compared to 8.4 percent who did not take estrogen.

Dr. Buckholtz is available to assist you in putting this story into perspective. To schedule an interview, please call 301/496-1752.

The NIA, a component of the National Institutes of Health, leads the Federal effort in supporting basic, epidemiological, and clinical research on Alzheimer's disease and the special needs of older people.

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