How do hormones affect the risk or progression of Alzheimer's disease?

Understanding how hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, and insulin impact the risk or progression of Alzheimer's disease is a primary area of investigation. The estrogen story has been particularly intriguing, because population studies have shown that women who take estrogen after menopause are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease. Despite this hopeful news, large government-funded clinical trials of estrogen treatment have so far found only negative results, including one report that estrogen replacement therapy (which combines estrogen with progesterone) actually increases a woman's risk of Alzheimer's.

While the jury is decidedly still out on the precise role of estrogen therapy in Alzheimer's prevention, one thing is clear: Both estrogen and the male hormone testosterone decrease beta amyloid (or a-beta) production in cells grown in the laboratory and in the brains of experimental animals. Understanding how these sex hormones exert their effects on a-beta is one goal of researchers.

Continue Learning about Alzheimer's Disease Causes

Alzheimer's Disease Causes

Alzheimer's Disease Causes

While much still remains a mystery about the exact cause of Alzheimer's disease, certain factors -- such as age -- present in most cases. Fifty percent of people over age 85 have Alzheimer's disease. Controllable lifestyle factors ...

such as sleeping habits, diet choices and smoking can contribute to your risk of the disease. For more information on Alzheimer's disease, check out our experts' answers to frequently asked questions.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.