ITHACA, NNC - The onset of menopause can actually cause serious health problems among women. According to a study of decreased estrogen levels in women during menopause, the condition causes metabolic changes in their brains that may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
According to neurologists, the level of the thinned hormone causes a decrease in neuroprotective elements in the female brain, which then raises the risk of developing this disease.
"Our findings suggest that estrogen loss during menopause not only reduces fertility, it also means the loss of neuroprotective elements that are key in the female brain and higher susceptibility to brain aging and Alzheimer's disease," said lead author Lisa Mosconi, Associate Professor at Cornell University in US, as reported by Boldsky.
This decline in estrogen levels also triggers a shift to "starvation reaction" in brain cells, a metabolic state that is beneficial in the short term but can be harmful in the long term.
The findings also reveal a decrease in brain cell volume and a collection of nerve fibers in the female brain region that is severely affected in Alzheimer's disease.
"This study suggests that there may be a critical opportunity, when women are in their 40s and 50s, to detect metabolic signs of higher Alzheimer's risk and implement strategies to reduce that risk," Mosconi said.
Medical attention is advised to be given to women in their 40s, long before endocrine or neurological symptoms, thus helping them prevent the disease, the researchers said.
Women may need antioxidants to protect brain and mitochondrial activity in combination with strategies to maintain estrogen levels. Bringing lifestyle changes, including exercise in routine and daily foods rich in antioxidants, such as grains can also help increase estrogen production, the researchers say.