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    Osteoporosis Drug May Help Preserve Memory

    Evista Decreased Memory Problems by 33%

    WebMD Health News

    April 8, 2005 -- The osteoporosisosteoporosis drug Evista may also help postmenopausal women avoid memory problems.

    Evista is one of several drugs used to prevent and treat osteoporosis, in which bones become dangerously thin and more likely to fracture.

    Women taking 120 milligrams of Evista for three years had a 33% lower risk of a condition called mild cognitive impairment. Women taking a lower dose of Evista (60 milligrams daily) saw no protection.

    In mild cognitive impairment there are subtle but measurable memory problems. This condition often progresses to Alzheimer's disease.Alzheimer's disease.

    The findings are reported in The American Journal of Psychiatry's April issue.

    Alzheimer's Boom Predicted

    An estimated 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, says the Alzheimer's Association. That includes one in 10 over age 65 and nearly half of those older than 85.

    Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging, but it does become more common with does become more common with age. As the U.S. population gets older, the number of people with Alzheimer's is likely to increase. By the year 2050, the number could range from 11 million to 16 million, predicts the Alzheimer's Association.

    Alzheimer's disease gradually affects parts of the brain involved in memory, intelligence, language, behavior, and judgment. It is the most common form of mental decline (dementia) in older adults.

    Memory Maintained

    Osteoporosis can strike men or women, though it's much more common among women. For women, osteoporosis is usually seen after menopause.menopause. For men, it's most typical after age 65.

    Participants were 5,300 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. Most were white; white and Asian women are at a higher risk of osteoporosis than black women.

    After three years, women taking 120 milligrams of Evista daily were much less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment.

    Side effects of Evista can include hot flashes, leg cramps, and blood clots in deep veins. Its long-term effects are not known.

    The researchers did not find a significant reduction in women that developed Alzheimer's while taking Evista. This may have been due to the fact that Alzheimer's usually takes more time to develop than this three-year study.

    "Most people with mild cognitive impairment progress to develop dementia over several years," say the researchers. "Thus, a drug that lowers the risk of mild cognitive impairment might also be expected to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease."

    'Tentative' Results

    The results need confirmation, say the researchers. They're not sure if the mental benefits extend to men, younger or nonwhite women, or postmenopausal women without osteoporosis.

    The researchers call for longer trials and studies of women at high riskwomen at high risk for Alzheimer's or cognitive impairment.

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