The Shriver Report Reveals a New Way to Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk
January, 2011 – Alzheimer’s disease is on the rise in America, but new evidence reveals there is hope. The Shriver Report, published by Maria Shriver with the backing of the Alzheimer’s Association, took an up close and disturbing look at the dreaded disease’s impact on women – and estrogen’s possible role in preventing it.
BodyLogicMD bioidentical hormone physicians know that a woman’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease increases after menopause. As the largest national network of expert physicians who deal primarily in preventive medicine, they help tens of thousands of women (and men) prevent disease by balancing hormones using bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT).
Scientists report that research is showing some clear connections betweendeclining estrogen and a number of diseases, including Alzheimer’s.
The secret may lie in a protein called insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE). Discovered by Liqin Zhao, Ph.D. and her colleagues at the University of Southern California, IDE degrades beta-amyloid, a protein fragment strongly associated with Alzheimer’s.
What’s more, the researchers also discovered that a decreased level of estradiol, which happens during menopause, reduces the expression of IDE. That, in turn, may reduce the ability of the brain to dispose of beta-amyloid. Zhao and her colleagues have proposed further study on how estrogen regulation can influence Alzheimer’s risk, but clear connections have already been proven.
“There is significant research into how effective estrogen therapy works to prevent Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Jennifer Landa, Chief Medical Officer of BodyLogicMD. “Some studies have shown a decrease of Alzheimer’s with estrogen therapy, and researchers are starting to realize that timing of the hormone therapy may have an impact.”
Landa points to an article that reviews over a decade of findings from scientific research exploring the HRT (hormone replacement therapy) timing issue. The article, entitled, “Potential role of estrogen in the pathobiology and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease,” concludes that, when estrogen therapy begins at the onset of menopause, it benefits the brain and actually decreases a women’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
“When you start hormone therapy in your mid to late 40’s – basically at the onset of estrogen decline?you have the most prevention of Alzheimer’s disease in the long run,” Landa says. “In women who started estrogen therapy at 60 or 65, there was not anywhere near the dramatic prevention effect that was demonstrated in women who were in the late 40s and early 50s.”
The research shows that the dosage of HRT is also important. The key is to use naturally occurring estrogen rather than synthetic preparations. Estradiol, the hormone that is showing all this promise, is a potent, naturally occurring estrogen. Studies show that synthetic estrogens may not offer the same benefits as natural estradiol. In fact, Synthetic hormones act as toxins because their chemical makeup cannot be metabolized properly.
“Bioidentical estrogen applied through the skin gets much better results in the prevention of Alzheimer’s than synthetic estrogen taken by mouth,” Landa says. “There is also some strong evidence for bioidentical progesterone. Progesterone protects the brain. The natural form of progesterone has benefits for the brain whereas the synthetic progesterone is actually worse for the brain. In both cases, bioidentical hormones are the best approach.”
The Shriver Report demonstrates why this research into Alzheimer’s prevention is so important. According to the report, 10 million women either have Alzheimer’s or are caring for someone with the disease. That number could triple in coming decades as 78 million Baby Boomers move into their golden years. The Shriver Report predicts Alzheimer’s cost to society could reach a staggering $20 trillion by 2050.
Research is still ongoing. New studies are underway to back up previous studies that link bioidentical hormone replacement therapy to Alzheimer’s prevention. Landa points to a trial study called KEEPS (Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study). KEEPS aims to increase the body of knowledge about menopausal hormone therapy by helping scientific research determine if hormone therapy prevents or delays the onset of certain diseases in women, including Alzheimer’s.
“Shriver is bringing attention to the battle against Alzheimer’s?and getting proactive about preventing this devastating disease before it arises,” Landa says. “More and more studies are showing the positive relationship between bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and disease prevention. Bioidentical hormones are bringing hope today for a better life tomorrow.”
More about Dr. Landa
Dr. Jennifer Landa earned her medical degree from Albany Medical College of Union University in Albany, NY in 1996. She completed her internship and residency at Beth Israel Medical Center in NYC, where she was distinguished as the Administrative Chief Resident in OB/GYN. Dr. Landa is Board Certified by the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine and serves as anAdvanced Fellow in the Fellowship for Anti-Aging, Regenerative and Functional Medicine. In addition, Dr. Landa has made appearances on a number of nationally-syndicated television shows, and was featured in a cover story by Florida Trend magazine in December of 2009, as a leading expert in anti-aging medicine.