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B. The Pros and Cons of Estrogen

Narrator: This is Science Today. Several studies have suggested that estrogen, a female hormone most often used to treat symptoms of menopause, may also prevent Alzheimer's Disease. But Kristine Yaffe, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, says it's too soon to tell for sure.

Yaffe: It's pretty clear that in the brain, estrogen does seem to have an effect but in terms of using it just to prevent Alzheimer's Disease I think is premature.

Narrator: Yaffe led a study which found that most women on estrogen replacement therapy had other factors which may have contributed to a reduction in Alzheimer's Disease, such as age, education, overall health and socioeconomic status. There are also other studies to consider.

Yaffe: There've been some studies that have shown a slight increase in breast cancer with estrogen, particularly if it's not with a progesterone. There is a small increase in endometrial cancer as well. So it's very important to talk to one's physician and weigh the pluses and minuses.

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