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How Hormones Affect Brain Function

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Friday, 20 Nov 2015 05:02 PM Current | Bio | Archive

In recent years, there has been increasing interest in using hormones to benefit brain health. Hormones are chemicals that influence various physical and mental functions, and can also be used to treat a variety of diseases.

For example, insulin is the hormone that stabilizes blood sugar levels of patients with diabetes. Women experiencing physical and mental symptoms of menopause may find relief from estrogen.

Despite limited systematic evidence that different hormones can improve memory, build muscle mass, and bolster libido, they are still popular. Although many of these hormones are natural, they can still pose risks of side effects.

The hormone dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA, is a component of estrogen and testosterone. It has been used to boost sex drive and muscle mass and help control body weight — but it has the potential to increase the risk of some cancers.

In animal and some human studies, DHEA has been shown to improve memory performance.

But large-scale human studies are not available to confirm that the benefits outweigh the risks.

The body’s level of human growth hormone (HGH) declines with age; thus, some older adults have used HGH to counter physical and mental effects of aging.

But there are possible side effects, including elevated cholesterol, diabetes, and cancer.

Twenty percent of men age 65 and older have abnormally low testosterone levels. Some animal research and small studies in humans have shown cognitive benefits from testosterone injections.

But human studies are needed to confirm that its potential benefits outweigh its risks, which include prostate cancer, heart attack, and stroke.

Epidemiological studies have demonstrated a link between estrogen replacement therapy and a lower risk for Alzheimer’s dementia in women.

However, because of such side effects as an increased risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease, doctors are careful about prescribing estrogen replacement.

Studies of possible cognitive benefits of estrogen have showed mixed results. Previous research indicates that a synthetic form of estrogen actually accelerates cognitive decline in women who take it at age 65 years or older.

But other studies indicate that women who take estrogen at the time of menopause have a lower dementia risk.

Today’s healthcare consumers can guard their brain health by partnering with their doctors to address their personal health concerns. In addition to a systematic review of their medicines, discussing questions about health is critical.

The treatments for common age-related illnesses can actually protect brain health when used properly.

And patients with dementia can benefit from the medicines that target memory and other symptoms.

However, you should be cautious about new and unproven treatments, as well as using hormones for age-related memory loss, until systematic research confirms that benefits outweigh risks
 

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Hormones are chemicals that influence various physical and mental functions, and can also be used to treat a variety of diseases.
DHEA, estrogen, hormones, HGH
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2015-02-20
Friday, 20 Nov 2015 05:02 PM
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