Columbia University Medical Center

New Study To Look At Estrogens Effects On Alzheimers Disease And Memory Loss

New York, NY May 24, 1999 — As part of a new research effort to determine if estrogen reduces memory decline and delays Alzheimer’s disease among high risk post-menopausal women, researchers from Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons are identifying healthy women over the age of 65 who have a family history of memory problems or Alzheimer’s disease. Columbia joins two other leading research centers in the effort, called PREvent Post-menopausal memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease with Replacement Estrogens (PREPARE), which is backed by a five-year grant from the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health at the Department of Health and Human Services.

“We have seen exciting scientific discoveries surrounding estrogen as a potential preventive measure for Alzheimer’s disease,” says principal investigator Mary Sano, Ph.D., associate professor of clinical neuropsychology at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons. “PREPARE takes existing research to a new level. The results of this study could have a tremendous effect on the aging female population.”

Currently 4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and this number is expected to reach 14 million by the year 2050 if no cure or prevention is found. For reasons not yet completely understood, Alzheimer’s disease is more prevalent in women than in men. Although a cause for Alzheimer’s disease has yet to be determined, age, gender and family history are considered to be risk factors for the disease.

Columbia University and its PREPARE partners, Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic, will measure whether women being treated with estrogen compared to placebo have lower rates of dementia and memory decline. Over a three-year period, patients will be examined every six months. Doctors will conduct annual complete medical, gynecological, neuropsychological and functional assessments at which time they will determine if there is sufficient cognitive change to trigger a “dementia evaluation.” In addition, the study will examine four groups of secondary outcomes including other cognitive measures, a measure of mood, measures of activities of daily living and biological markers. PREPARE plans to recruit 900 postmenopausal women at high risk for Alzheimer’s.

A substantial body of evidence from observational epidemiological studies, small clinical trials and laboratory research suggests that estrogen may help in delaying Alzheimer’sdisease. PREPARE goes a step further to investigate potential benefits of estrogen.

Women interested in participating in this study should call 1-877-DELAY-AD.

They must be:

65 years and older
Healthy and not experiencing memory problems
Related to someone with Alzheimer’s disease or memory loss (parent, sibling, or child)
Not currently taking estrogen
###

Also on CUMC News: