In a large study of elderly people, researchers have uncovered a strong link between thin bones and poor verbal memory. To investigate, Zhang and colleagues analyzed the relationship between bone mineral density (BMD) and verbal memory impairment among more than 4,300 elderly people included in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
The researchers found that people with greater BMD had better verbal memory. "Verbal memory impairment is one of the strongest predictors of the future development of dementia and Alzheimer's disease," lead study author Dr. Yuqing Zhang of Boston University told. Low estrogen exposure may increase the risk of verbal memory problems, he added, "and bone mass is a good marker of cumulative estrogen exposure."
These results suggest that "high levels of long-term estrogen exposure may be a critical element in the preservation of verbal memory with aging," Zhang and colleagues conclude.