Research News

Hormone therapy has no effect on cognition in younger postmenopausal women

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f4095 (Published 26 June 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f4095

Hormone therapy has been implicated in cognitive decline among women who start treatment at 65 years or over, so researchers checked for the same effect in younger women, using data from two placebo controlled trials. Results were reassuring. Postmenopausal women who began hormone therapy aged between 50 and 55 years had similar cognitive function to placebo controls. The 1326 women took conjugated equine oestrogens, with or without medroxyprogesterone, or placebo for a mean of seven years. They had a battery of cognitive tests over the telephone seven years after the end of treatment, at a mean age of 67 years.

Hormone therapy made no difference to global measures of cognitive function. Small deficits in verbal fluency emerged in one subgroup, although further analysis suggested this could be a chance finding.

This study makes efficient use of precious trial data, says a linked comment (doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.6827). Hormone therapy does not seem to threaten the cognitive function of younger postmenopausal women. But it doesn’t boost cognitive function either, and some observers will be disappointed. There is thought to be an early “window of opportunity” for hormone therapy to improve outcomes such as heart disease in postmenopausal women. This study did not find a corresponding window of opportunity for cognitive function.

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Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f4095