Older women with both high estrogen levels and diabetes face a greater risk for dementia, according to a new study published online in the medical journal, Neurology. The American Alzheimer’s Association says that more than 5 million people in the United States struggle with the most common form of dementia: Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers had already established a connection between diabetes and the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease; this study shows high estrogen levels increase this risk even more.
For this study, scientists from the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research measured blood estrogen levels of 543 dementia-free women aged 65 or over; they also performed this test on 132 who suffered from this disorder. The researchers also assessed all the participants for other dementia risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal blood clotting, and other heart health risk factors.
The researchers found the risk for dementia was 14 times higher among women with both diabetes and high estrogen levels.
Furthermore, the scientists determined that women with high estrogen levels had twice the risk for dementia than women with low estrogen levels. Lastly, the researchers found that estrogen levels were 70 percent higher in women with both dementia and diabetes.
The scientists in this study expressed surprise at the results, as previous research showed estrogen has a protective effect on the brain.
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