by Anne Trueman on  November 22, 2012 at 11:39 AM Health In Focus
Birth Control Pills Can Prevent Alzheimer's
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 brain.

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 users'.

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. They 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'.

Source: Medindia

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