There is increasing evidence that menopausal changes can have an impact on women’s cognition and potentially, the future development of dementia. In particular, the role of reduced levels of estrogen in postmenopausal changes has been linked to an increased risk of developing dementia in observational studies. Not surprisingly, this has led to several clinical trials investigating whether postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy can potentially delay/avoid cognitive changes and subsequently, the onset of dementia. However, the evidence of these trials has been mixed, with some showing positive effects while others show no or even negative effects. In the current review, we investigate this controversy further by reviewing the existing studies and trials in cognition and dementia. Based on the current evidence, we conclude that previous approaches may have used a mixture of women with different genetic risk factors for dementia which might explain these contradicting findings. Therefore, it is recommended that future interventional studies take a more personalised approach towards hormone replacement therapy use in postmenopausal women, by taking into account the women’s genetic status for dementia risk.
- hormone replacement therapy
- ‘critical window’ hypothesis