While estrogen replacement therapy shows promise in helping post-menopausal women preserve important cognitive abilities such as memory, its effectiveness is still being questioned. In studies at the National Institutes of Health and at the University of California, Los Angeles, researchers have demonstrated that in some women, this hormone alters brain blood flow and improves performance on certain mental tests. But other studies are not as definitive, suggesting that improved cognitive abilities could be associated with a decrease in menopausal symptoms. "The epidemiologic data we have is not that mature," says Stanley Birge, clinical director of the Older Adult Health Center at Washington University. "But I think if you add up the negative studies and the positive studies, it does fall to the side of recommending. It probably is effective in preserving the brain."

Courtesy of Pauline Maki

Left: Pauline Maki

But don't advise treatment right now, some researchers say....

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?