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High estrogen levels, diabetes linked to higher dementia risk

Thursday January 30, 2014
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Older women who have high estrogen levels and diabetes might have a 14-times increased risk of dementia, according to a study.

For the study, published Jan. 29 on the website of the journal Neurology, blood estrogens were measured in women free of dementia ages 65 and older. After a four-year follow-up, 543 women who did not have dementia were compared with 132 women who had dementia. Scientists looked at a number of risk factors for dementia, including diabetes, hypertension, abnormal blood clotting and other heart health risk factors.

The study found that the risk of dementia more than doubled for women who had high estrogen levels after accounting for other dementia risk factors. For those who had high estrogen levels and diabetes, the risk of dementia increased dramatically, by 14 times.

Estrogen levels were about 70% higher in women with diabetes who also had dementia compared with those without dementia. No other heart health risk factors raised the dementia risk.

“These results are surprising, given the expected brain-protective effects of estrogen-based therapy,” study author Pierre-Yves Scarabin, MD, with the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Villejuif, France, said in a news release.

“However, more and more evidence suggests an association between high estradiol levels and dementia in women who have undergone menopause. Considering the expected increase in the number of elderly people with diabetes and dementia, more research on this topic should be urgently conducted.”

Neurology is the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Study abstract: http://bit.ly/1eh5TAz


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