Several types of research have linked menopause brain changes with Alzheimer disease. As we know, Alzheimer Disease is the primary cause of age-related dementia as it accounts for about 50-60% of these cases.
The condition starts during the middle age or later in life and is characterized by a progressive deterioration of cognitive and functional skills, but variability in behavioral manifestations.
Different studies have shown that menopause increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by causing several metabolic changes in the brain. This is because most of the changes that occur during menopause closely resemble those that are seen in Alzheimer’s disease.
Most researchers suggest that the connection between the two could indicate the start of the condition.
Consequently, many researchers have embarked on studying the link between menopause and Alzheimer’s disease to help women deal with unpleasant symptoms of this stage in life. Here we look at the relation between the two, to help you learn how to manage the severity of the brain changes.
What are the Researches Proving This Claim?
Many kinds of research have proven the link between menopause brain changes and Alzheimer’s disease.
This is by showing that there is a relation between the changes that happen in the brain during the menopause are similar that takes place when one as the condition.
According to research by a team from Weil Cornell Medicine and the University of Arizona, menopause increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease as it causes changes in the brain that trigger the condition.
The findings of this research can significantly help in some long-standing mysteries that relate to AD, such why is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder common in women than in men.
This is true despite the fact that women live longer than men on average. A keen look at the findings shows that they can be used in developing screening tests and early interventions that could help in reversing or slowing the metabolic changes.
The study also shows that the process of Alzheimer’s disease starts many decades before the presence of dementia and it affects more than 5 million Americans, with one-third being the group that is over 85 years of age.
The study further reveals that the age when are between the age of 40 and 50s may be the critical window of opportunity when metabolic signs of the high risk of Alzheimer’s begin.
According to their author, Lisa Mosconi this still marks the age that we can apply strategies to reduce the risks of the condition.
The team of researchers did the study by measuring the use of glucose in the brains of 43 healthy women within the age of 40 to 60 using positron emission tomography (PET) scans.
The findings of the study revealed that 15 of the women were pre-menopausal, 14 were in the transition to menopause (peri-menopause), while the other 14 were menopausal. Glucose was used in the study, as it is the primary source of fuel for cellular activity.
The study further revealed that those who were menopausal or peri-menopausal had significantly lower glucose metabolism levels in several regions of the brain as compared to pre-menopausal women.
This was seen to match the finding of other prior studies by scientists that found a similar pattern of a low metabolic rate in the brains of Alzheimer patients as well as in mice that model the disease.
Moreover, the study also revealed lower levels of activity of mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase, which is a vital metabolic enzyme in peri-menopausal and menopausal patients.
These patients even scored poorly on standard memory tests, although pre-menopausal women were younger than they were.
The study confirms that loss of estrogen in menopause affects more areas in the body than just the fertility.
It also leads to loss of a basic neuroprotective element in the female brain and increased risks of aging of the brain and Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, there is a need to address the issues of menopause because many women are approaching menopause life stage.
It is also advisable for women to seek medical attention in their 40’s before any neurological or endocrine symptoms appear.
The findings of this study represent a solid prove that adds more evidence to the claim that there is a physiological link between menopause and Alzheimer’s disease.
According to another study by the same team, shows reveal that menopause is linked to increased accumulation of amyloid-beta, which is the brain’s protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Besides, the researchers also explained that there was a decrease in the volume of white (nerve fiber bundles) and gray matter (brain cells) regions, which are affected by the condition.
Menopause is also known to cause brain-related symptoms like insomnia, depression, anxiety and cognitive deficits. Many scientists link these to the decline in estrogen levels.
This is because estrogen receptors are found in cells in all parts of the brain. Therefore, a drop in estrogen levels could increase the risk of the brain suffering from diseases and dysfunction.
What is the Link Between Menopause and Alzheimer’s Disease?
Most studies have shown that there is a link between menopause and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). This because menopause involves loss of estrogen, a hormone that is important in maintaining healthy brain function in the nucleus of basalis of Meynert as well as other regions of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s condition.
Alzheimer’s disease s diagnosis happens when there is both dementia and a characteristic pattern of brain changes that include neuronal loss, intracellular neurofibrillary tangles, the presence of extracellular plaques containing beta amyloidal peptides, hippocampus, atrophy, and other regions.
Besides, different lines of evidence reveal that loss of estrogen through brain aging may lead to the decline of the brain’s cognitive ability, which is associated with AD.
Some studies in animal and in vitro studies have demonstrated the estrogen’s neuroprotective actions, but the evidence is not consistent in the studies of aging men and women.
Despite the inconsistency in the studies, observational studies have also shown that there is a connection between cognitive decline and dementia with the low levels of endogenous hormones.
This confirms that there is a link between menopause and Alzheimer disease.
This evidence has seen many researchers consider estrogen as the potential treatment for women with dementia because of Alzheimer.
However, there is no concrete evidence yet to show that initiation of estrogen in older women can improve dementia symptoms or slow the progression of the disease.
In conclusion, several studies have proven that there is a link between menopause and Alzheimer’s disease.
This has set the stage for more research on menopause brain changes that play a role in causing Alzheimer’s disease. Besides, there have been studies on ways that these brain changes can be identified on time and what can be done to reverse them or reduce their impact on the brain.
These studies are essential as we to address the problem of menopause brain changes, as about 850 million women are getting into menopause worldwide.
With more advanced studies, it is possible that scientists can develop ways to boosts hormone levels artificially to help in protecting the brain from menopause changes.