By Riva Preil
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has received mixed reviews in the medical community. A wide variety of research has been performed to assess the pros and cons, especially regarding the use of estrogen. The Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS) studied the effects of conjugated equine estrogen, the most popular type of post-menopausal estrogen replacement. The study revealed that usage of this type of estrogen was correlated with development of cognitive issues and dementia in women aged 65 and older. The question of whether or not estrogen had similar effects on younger post-menopausal women was not addressed until a recent study, the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study of Younger Women (WHIMSY). WHIMSY analyzed the effect of the same medications on younger aged women, specifically women who initiated treatment between the ages of 50 and 55. The results of the study, which were published in JAMA Internal Medicine on June 24, 2013, revealed that there was no significant difference in cognitive function or memory abilities between women who had received HRT compared to those who had not. It is unclear why the women receiving HRT a decade younger in the WHIMSY study did not develop the same cognitive issues as the women in the WHIMS study. Based on the research, Dr. Susan Resnick (of the National Institute on Aging) suggests “taking these types of estrogen based hormone therapies for a relatively short period of time in…early postmenopausal years may not put [women] at increased risk for cognitive decline over the long term.” If you have any questions regarding whether or not this medication is appropriate for you or someone you know, please consult with your physician.