Published on: January 31, 2014
by Doctor’s Lounge:
Postmenopausal women with high estradiol levels have a two-fold higher risk of developing dementia, but the risk is 14-fold higher if they also have diabetes, according to a study published online Jan. 29 in Neurology.
Laure Carcaillon, Ph.D., from the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale in Villejuif, France, and colleagues examined the association between blood estradiol levels and the development of dementia in postmenopausal women aged 65 years or older. Five hundred forty-three women did not develop dementia and 132 women developed dementia after four years of follow up.
Estradiol is the predominant sex hormone present in females. Estradiol, like other steroids, is derived from cholesterol. The French study didn’t focus on patients who were taking hormonal therapy. The scientists measured the level of estrogen occurring naturally in the blood of women ages 65 years and older without dementia in Bordeaux, Dijon and Montpellier, France. Four years later they were followed up and 543 women who had no dementia were compared with 132 who did. The researchers also looked at risk factors including high-blood pressure, blood clotting and other indicators of heart health.
The researchers found that the risk of dementia was significantly higher for both the lowest quartile (hazard ratio [HR], 2.4) and highest quartile (HR, 2.2) of estradiol levels after adjusting for other variables. Women with higher total estradiol levels had a significantly higher risk of dementia if they also had diabetes (HR, 14.2), compared with no diabetes (HR, 3.4). Similar results were found for bioavailable estradiol, while no association was observed for total testosterone. Adjusting for inflammatory and blood coagulation markers had no effect.
“High estradiol level is an independent predictor of incident dementia, particularly in postmenopausal women with diabetes,” Carcaillon and colleagues conclude.
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