January 14, 2013
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Early Surgical Menopause Linked
Declines in Memory and Thinking
Women who undergo surgical menopause at
an earlier age may have an increased risk of decline in memory and
thinking skills, according to a study released today that will be
presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 65th
Annual Meeting in San Diego, March 16 to 23, 2013.
Early surgical menopause is the removal
of both ovaries before natural menopause and often accompanies a
“While we found a link between
surgical menopause and thinking and memory decline, women on
longer hormone replacement therapies had slower declines,” said
study author Riley Bove, MD, with Harvard Medical School in
Boston and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.
“Since hormone replacement therapy
is widely available, our research raises questions as to whether
these therapies have a protective effect against cognitive
decline and whether women who experience early surgical
menopause should be taking hormone replacement therapies
The study included 1,837 women between
the ages of 53 and 100 participating in the
Rush Memory and Aging
Project at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
Of those, 33 percent had undergone
The women were given several types of
tests that measured thinking skills and memory. Researchers also
recorded age at the start of menstruation, years of menstrual cycles
and use and length of hormone replacement therapies.
The study found that among women who underwent surgical menopause,
earlier age of the procedure was associated with a faster decline in
long-term memory related to concepts and ideas, in memory that
relates to time and places and in overall thinking abilities.
The results stayed the same after
considering factors such as age, education and smoking. This same
association was not seen in women who underwent natural menopause.
There was also a significant association between age at surgical
menopause and the plaques linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
“Our study warrants further research
as the interest in this subject will continue to grow right
along with our aging population,” said Bove.