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Neurology. 1997 Dec;49(6):1491-7.

Estrogen replacement therapy and longitudinal decline in visual memory. A possible protective effect?

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Laboratory of Personality and Cognition, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, MD 21224-2780, USA.


Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) is increasingly recommended for postmenopausal women due to its beneficial effects on physical health in older women. Recent studies have suggested that ERT may have a protective effect on cognitive function and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease. In the present study we test the hypothesis that ERT may have a protective effect on memory in nondemented women. Data on hormonal status and memory were examined in 288 postmenopausal women in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. One hundred sixteen women who reported that they were receiving ERT during a cognitive assessment were compared with 172 women who had never received ERT. Women who were receiving ERT had fewer errors on the Benton Visual Retention Test (BVRT), a measure of short-term visual memory, visual perception, and constructional skills. Furthermore, ERT appeared to protect against age changes in BVRT performance in a subgroup of 18 women for whom BVRT data were available before and during treatment with ERT. These findings suggest that ERT may protect against memory decline in nondemented postmenopausal women and offer further support for a beneficial role of estrogen on cognitive function in aging women.

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