Estrogen Won't Make Women Sharper After Menopause, Study Finds
Researchers see no brain benefits even in early postmenopause
Henderson said length of time in estrogen decline appeared to make no difference. "We found that the relation between blood levels of estrogen and memory or planning skills is the same in younger postmenopausal women as in older postmenopausal women," he said. "Essentially, for estrogen there is no association at either age."
Although these findings don't absolutely rule out estrogen as relevant to thinking and memory, since there is no direct way of measuring estrogen in the brain, they suggest that boosting estrogen levels -- even in younger postmenopausal women -- may not affect mental skills one way or the other, he said.
Dr. Marc Gordon, chief of neurology at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y., agreed that this finding doesn't "support the hypothesis that younger postmenopausal women would be more responsive to the beneficial effects of estrogen on their mental abilities."
He also said the correlation between higher progesterone levels and better memory and thinking skills in younger women needs to be replicated. "It is not yet clear what the effect of this sex hormone on the brain may be," he added.
The study relied on data on more than 600 postmenopausal women, aged 41 to 84. None of them was using hormone replacement therapy.
Researchers administered a series of tests to gauge the women's memory and overall thinking skills. They also assessed them for depression, and measured levels of the hormones estradiol, estrone, progesterone and testosterone.