Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Menopause Health Center

Font Size

HRT Appears to Lower Alzheimer's Risk

But Only if You Take it Early
WebMD Health News

Nov. 5, 2002 -- Long-term hormone replacement therapy has been all but abandoned for the prevention of disease in the months since a large government study linked its use to an increased risk of heart attack, blood clots, and breast cancer. But the same study found HRT helps protect against bone loss, and new research suggests it may protect against Alzheimer's disease in women who take it around the time of menopause.

The study found that elderly women with a history of hormone use were less likely to develop Alzheimer's than those who had never taken HRT. But current users who had taken HRT for less than 10 years developed the disease at an increased rate compared with women who took HRT for more than 10 years.

"This study suggests that use of hormone therapy within 10 years of onset of Alzheimer's disease is not protective," researcher John C.S. Breitner, MD, tells WebMD. "Several other studies have shown that hormone therapy is of no value in women who have already developed Alzheimer's. Our data suggest that even for women with very mild cognitive impairment it may be too late."

In their study, published in the Nov. 6 Journal of the American Medical Association, Breitner and colleagues followed about 3,200 elderly residents of a county in Utah who were taking part in an ongoing observational study. None of the participants had Alzheimer's at enrollment in 1995, but 2.6% of the men and 4.7% of the women were diagnosed with the disease three years later.

Women who used HRT were found to have a 41% reduction in risk of developing Alzheimers disease, compared with women who had never taken hormone therapy. Women who took HRT for more than 10 years had the same risk for Alzheimer's as men, and longer use was associated with larger risk reductions. So women who had taken HRT for more than 10 years had decreased their risk of developing the disease.

In an effort to determine whether an overall healthier lifestyle was responsible for the decreased risk among HRT users, the researchers also examined the use of multivitamin and calcium supplements. Supplement use was not found to be protective against Alzheimer's. But Breitner says the findings cannot exclude the possibility that HRT users differ from nonusers in other important attributes related to health in general and Alzheimer's in particular.

Today on WebMD

woman walking outdoors
How to handle headaches, night sweats, and more.
mature woman holding fan in face
Symptoms and treatments.
woman hiding face behind hands
11 ways to keep skin bright and healthy.
Is it menopause or something else?
senior couple
mature woman shopping for produce
Alcohol Disrupting Your Sleep
mature couple on boat
mature woman tugging on her loose skin
senior woman wearing green hat
estrogen gene

WebMD Special Sections