Postmenopausal HT doesn't improve--or impede--cognition

January 1, 2004

Not only shouldn't postmenopausal women take hormone therapy to prevent heart disease, they shouldn't use it to improve or protect cognitive function, according to a large population-based study.

Researchers included 1,462 postmenopausal women residing in Wisconsin and participating in the 5-year follow-up examination for the Epidemiology of Hearing Loss Study in 1998–2000. Ninety-four of the women were cognitively impaired as defined by low Mini-Mental State Examination scores, with 20% of the 94 receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

After adjusting for age, current HT users were slightly less likely than nonusers to be cognitively impaired, but the finding was not statistically significant. Similarly, neither current, past, nor duration of HT use was associated with cognitive impairment. Age and educational attainment seem to play more important roles in postmenopausal cognitive status.

Mitchell JL, Cruickshanks KJ, Klein BE, et al. Postmenopausal hormone therapy and its association with cognitive impairment. Arch Intern Med. 2003;163:2485-2490.