Hormone therapy may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease for women who take the treatment at a time near menopause, but if hormone therapy is begun after menopause it may not reduce such risk, according to a study in the October 30 Neurology. Researchers followed 1,768 women who were part of a population-based study and found that 176 women developed Alzheimer’s disease between 1995 and 2006. Women who used any type of hormone therapy within five years of menopause had a 30% less risk of Alzheimer’s disease. However, those who began hormone therapy five or more years after menopause did not have a reduced disease risk. In addition, women who began opposed compounds in the three years prior to the baseline assessment had an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The association of hormone therapy use and risk of Alzheimer’s disease may depend on the timing of use and deserves further study, the investigators concluded.
Engaging in physical activity may protect older adults from brain atrophy and white matter lesions, researchers reported in the October 23 Neurology. The study examined self-reported leisure and physical activity at age 70 among a sample of 691 adults. At age 73, participants were assessed for structural brain biomarkers, and the investigators found that a higher level of physical activity was significantly associated with higher fractional anisotropy, less atrophy, lower white matter load, and larger gray and normal-appearing white matter volumes. These associations remained significant after adjustments for age, social class, and health status. The researchers noted that although their results support the role of physical activity as a potential neuroprotective factor, “the direction of causation is unclear from this observational study.”