HRT 'fails to improve memory'

Taking HRT in the early stages of the menopause fails to improve memory, claim US researchers.

But HRT does boost sexual thoughts among these women, according to the study.

The findings come from a trial of 180 women aged between 45 and 55 whose last menstruation was in the previous one to three years. They were randomly assigned to receive oestrogen-progesterone HRT or placebo.

Recent findings have suggested that the onset of the menopause, and decline of oestrogen levels, could impair memory.

For example, one study of over 16,000 women showed that 40 per cent of postmenopausal women reported forgetfulness, compared with 30 per cent of those who were premenopausal.

But this latest research showed no significant difference in cognition between women taking HRT and those on placebo.

The researchers did find that women treated with HRT reported a 32 per cent increase in sexual thoughts and a 44 per cent increase in sexual interest, compared with those given placebo.

Lead researcher Dr Pauline Maki, from the University of Illinois in Chicago, said: 'While our results are inconsistent with studies that found improvements in verbal memory for women who only used oestrogen, it may be that progesterone modifies the protective effects of oestrogen on verbal memory.'

Professor Maki warned the study findings might be limited because it was halted before the target sample size of 275 women was reached, due to concerns over the long-term use of HRT.

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