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D. Estrogen & Alzheimers: A Wait And See Approach

Narrator: This is Science Today. In the last decade, there's been an explosion of studies looking into the role estrogen has in Alzheimer's Disease. Kristine Yaffe, a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, says it's pretty clear estrogen does have an effect in the brain.

Yaffe: There are estrogen receptors throughout the brain. In particular, in the hippocampus, which is the area thought to be affected early in Alzheimer's and very critical in memory in general. And it seems that in these basic science experiments, that if you add estrogen - the neurons seem to be healthier. They sprout more dendritic connections, It seems overall that this is almost like a protective or a healthy effect.

Narrator: Still, Yaffe cautions these results need further study.

Yaffe: It's important to be cautious because there are side effects associated with estrogen use that they're not talked about a lot and I think there are certain expenses of taking the medication and I think generally speaking, it's better to wait until the studies are done.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.