Previous reports have suggested that estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) in women may exert a protective effect on their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We investigated this relationship in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA), a prospective multidisciplinary study of normal aging conducted by the National Institute on Aging. The sample consisted of 472 post- or perimenopausal women followed for up to 16 years in the BLSA. We documented ERT prospectively at each BLSA visit, and we categorized women who had used oral or transdermal estrogens at anytime as EPT users. We used Cox proportional hazards models with time dependent covariates to estimate the relative risk of developing AD following ERT as compared to women who had not used estrogen replacement. Approximately 45% of the women in the cohort had used ERT and we diagnosed 34 incident cases of AD (NINCDS/ADRDA criteria) during follow-up, including nine estrogen users. After adjusting for education, the relative risk for AD in ERT users as compared to non-users was 0.46 (95% CI=0.209 to 0.997), indicating a reduced risk of AD for women who had reported the use of estrogen. Our data did not show an effect for duration of ERT usage. Our finding offers additional support for a protective influence of estrogen in AD. Randomized clinical trials are necessary to confirm this association, which could have significant public health impact.
Source: Neurology. 1997;48:1517-1521.