Alzheimer’s And Hormone Balance
Alzheimer’s is not usually related to hormone imbalance, but as the majority of sufferers are women – with numbers increasing each year – it is time look at how your hormones may affect it.
Labrix Laboratory in the United States has made a study of the relationship between hormone imbalance and Alzheimer’s that is particularly relevant to women in the context of oestrogen dominance.
In the United States alone, every 67 seconds someone develops Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and about two thirds of these are women. One of the early symptoms is typically difficulty remembering new information, and this is caused by the deposition of beta amyloid plaques and tau protein tangles build inside cells. These eventually cause the death of neurons that control memory, personality, and those that regulate our basic metabolic processes and physiological functions.
Consequently, Alzheimer’s disease is now the 6th leading cause of death in the US – responsible for more deaths than prostate and breast cancer combined.
The role of bioidentical hormones in helping combat Alzheimer’s
There are many ideas about what contributes to AD including insulin resistance (AD has been referred to as Type 3 diabetes), exposure to toxins and heavy metals, uncontrolled inflammation, food intolerances and changes in neurotransmitter levels. There is a significant decline in the production of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine with AD patients, and a relationship between this and changes in hormone levels.
This may be one of the reasons that the disease disproportionately affects women. Oestrogen stimulates the synthesis of acetylcholine and increases the number of synapses in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that is integral to memory storage. Also, oestrogen protects the brain from oxidative stress, amyloid B peptide and glutamate induce toxicity. Oestrogen has been shown to improve memory and cognition in women with Alzheimer’s disease and may modulate the risk of developing AD in the first place.
Progesterone is well established as an anti-inflammatory agent in the brain and can increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), an important agent that supports the survival of neurons and encourages the growth of new ones. Progesterone also protects against amyloid B-peptide toxicity, the main component in the amyloid plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer patients.
The Labrix report indicates that the restoration of balanced hormones is an integral part of the treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and maintaining optimal hormone levels may help to protect against the damage and degeneration that leads to the disease in the first place. Either bioidentical progesterone alone, or a combined cream of progesterone and natural oestrogens may be most effective, depending on other menopausal symptoms.
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