High Levels of Estrogen Throughout Life Reduce Risk of Cerebrovascular Disease and Dementia in Women: Study
Study Shows Lifetime Estrogen Exposure Reduces Risk of Cerebrovascular Disease and Dementia in Women
According to a recent study published in the journal Neurology, high levels of estrogen throughout a woman’s life can significantly decrease the risk of cerebrovascular disease and dementia.
Reproductive Lifespan and Brain Health
The study, conducted on 9,000 postmenopausal women in the United Kingdom, revealed that women with a longer reproductive lifespan or multiple children are more likely to experience the positive effects of estrogen on their brain health.
This hormonal influence leads to a reduced risk of cerebral small vessel disease, a condition caused by damage to the brain’s small blood vessels and associated with cognitive impairment and dementia.
Participants in the study provided information about their reproductive health, including the age of their first period, onset of menopause, and number of pregnancies.
Brain scans were conducted to identify signs of cerebral small vessel disease by examining white matter hyperintensity, which indicates damage to the brain’s white matter.
The researchers determined the lifetime hormone exposure by adding the number of years a woman was pregnant to her reproductive life expectancy, which is the period between her first menstruation and menopause. The average hormone exposure duration was found to be 40 years.
The analysis revealed that women with higher lifetime hormone exposure had lower levels of white matter hyperintensity, indicating healthier brain conditions.
Interestingly, the study also found that the use of oral contraceptives (HRT) did not affect the benefits of pregnancy or reproductive lifespan on brain health.
Implications and Recommendations
Kevin Whittingstall, the study author from the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada, emphasized the importance of considering reproductive history in the management of brain health for postmenopausal women.
Previous research has shown that the incidence of certain brain diseases, like small vessel disease, tends to increase after menopause due to hormonal changes. This study reveals that exposure to hormones before menopause can extend the protective window against these diseases.
Additional Study on Estrogen and Gray Matter
A separate study conducted at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York found that women with higher lifetime estrogen exposure tend to have more gray matter in their brains.
Gray matter plays a crucial role in sensory perception, memory, decision-making, and other cognitive functions.
The researchers discovered that for each additional year of estrogen exposure, the average volume of gray matter in specific brain regions increases by 1%. Additionally, for each additional child a woman has, the volume of gray matter increases by 2%.
The findings of these studies highlight the significant impact of estrogen on women’s brain health throughout their lives. They emphasize the importance of considering reproductive history and hormone exposure in the management and prevention of cerebrovascular disease and dementia in postmenopausal women.
Source: Daily Mail