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UNT Health Science Center Researcher Offers Women Hormone Therapy Choice

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 General News J E 4
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FORT WORTH, Texas, May 18, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In Texas, 340,000 people suffer with Alzheimer's disease, and that number is expected to grow to 470,000 by 2050.

In the U.S., the number of elderly will increase 102 percent from 2000 to 2030. More than 5 million individuals suffer from Alzheimer's disease, the sixth leading cause of death. The U.S. spends $172 billion annually on Alzheimer's disease, and that is supposed to grow to $1 trillion by 2050.

The cost to our country, including financial, psychological, social and physical costs, is expected to continue growing as the nation's population of elderly increases.

"We need to leave no stone unturned in finding treatments and a cure for Alzheimer's," said Meharvan Singh, Ph.D., chair of the department of Pharmacology and Neurobiology at the UNT Health Science Center at Fort Worth. And hormone treatments may be one of our best bets. "But first, we have to understand how hormones  -- progesterone, testosterone and estrogen – affect bone, heart and brain health, as well as sexual health."

Hormone therapy was called into question after the results from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study were publicized, beginning in 2002. The study was halted after four years when it was determined to be dangerous. Singh and other experts, however, contend that without considering the age of the women, the type of hormone and the regimen of hormone therapy, the results of the WHI fall short of providing evidence that hormones are altogether bad.

"Post-menopausal women are two to three times more likely than men to get Alzheimer's," Singh explained.  "Hormones have been proven to be good for the brain if the right type is administered in the right way. For example, progesterone protects the brain, while the synthetic progestin used in most hormone therapy formulations does not. "

"We need to evaluate if it would be more beneficial to administer these hormones transdermally, like via a patch, or orally. And whether continuously taking the hormones is more or less beneficial than taking them cyclically."

The initial conclusion to the WHI study was that hormone replacement therapy was bad. However, as more studies are conducted, we are learning that some hormones can be very beneficial in staving off Alzheimer's disease, especially if administered to women in their 50s.

"Women spend one-third of their lives after menopause, without the protective benefit of these hormones," Singh said. "I think we owe it to our mothers, our sisters, our wives and our daughters to offer them the choice of hormone replacement therapy, instead of robbing them of the option."

UNT Health Science Center

The UNT Health Science Center comprises the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the School of Public Health, the School of Health Professions and UNT Health, the physician faculty multispecialty group practice. Key areas of strength include aging and Alzheimer's disease, applied genetics and primary care and prevention.  This year, the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine was named a top-50 medical school in primary care by U.S. News & World Report for the tenth consecutive year. The Health Science Center contributes more than $500 million to the Tarrant County and Texas economies annually.

SOURCE UNT Health Science Center

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