There has been much scrutiny on the impact of
hormone therapy especially after menopause. Gynecologists advise hormone
replacement therapy (HRT) to combat the aftermaths of menopause, such as hot
flashes and anxiety. Studies have suggested that the use of hormone replacement
therapy can provide preventive effects against dementia and heart ailments.
Besides controlling unwanted pregnancies, birth
control pills are also used to check various other ailments such as
endometriosis and painful periods. A recent research published in the Journal
of Women's Health, has shown that the birth control pills can also prevent
Alzheimer's disease. The protective action of pills is seen even long after the
use of pills has been discontinued.
The researchers believed that estrogen present in
the pills was responsible for preventing the arteries from being blocked. The
blockage can hamper adequate blood supply to the brain. They said that the
estrogen hormone also promote the growth of certain cells in spinal cord and
The study involved 261 women with normal cognitive
function. The age of the study subjects varied from 40 to 65 years. Cognitive
functions were analyzed based on Verbal
Ability, Visuo-spatial Ability, Working Memory, Verbal Learning & Memory,
and Speed & Flexibility. Based on the history of hormonal contraceptive use
and the duration of use, subjects were categorized into 'ever users' and 'never
The researchers found that women taking birth
control pills have better cognitive scores as compared to those who do not take
contraceptive pills. Results of the
study showed that 'ever users' with 15 years or more of use performed
significantly better than 'never users' in the visuo-spatial ability and speed
and flexibility aspects of cognitive function.
Kelly Egan, the lead researcher, mentioned, "Our
analysis indicated that hormonal contraceptive use may have a protective
cognitive [memory] effect, even years after use is discontinued. This is
especially true in subjects with a longer duration of use.'
The scientists thus concluded that estrogen
present in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may provide protection against
Alzheimer's related dementia.
however suggested further research to 'explore
the use of hormonal contraceptives to prevent or delay cognitive decline and to
clarify the physiologic basis of this phenomenon'.