Does HRT help prevent dementia?

A recent study of 1,178 women found that those carrying the APOE4 gene taking Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) had a better delayed memory score compared to APOE4 carriers that were not taking HRT, and to non-APOE4 carriers.[1] They also had slightly larger brain volumes in certain areas. This study suggested that HRT may help to prevent Dementia. This study was an observational trial, not a clinical trial, meaning the statement remains a hypotheses and requires further randomised controlled trials to investigate further. We analysed the paper and provided our comments below.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) are synthetic hormones commonly prescribed to menopausal women to reduce menopausal symptoms

Clinical Trials on HRT

Clinical trials to date have not shown benefit of HRT with improving cognitive function. A systematic review of the clinical trial evidence for the effect of HRT on cognitive outcomes did not find benefit.[2] The Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS) conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial examining 8300 women 65 years of age or older over a 2- year period to observe the effects of HRTs and dementia progression. The trial failed to find a beneficial effect for HRT in reducing dementia risk, instead finding an increase in all types of dementia.[3]

The ApoE4 Gene

Roughly 1 in 5 people carry the ApoE4 gene, which accounts for 4 to 6% of risk for dementia and can be modified, downregulating the gene, with positive diet, nutritional supplement and lifestyle changes.[1]

Find out your risk for Dementia

In our Dementia Risk Index, as part of the Cognitive Function test, and COGNITION programme to reduce dementia, we excluded HRT because the evidence was not conclusive or consistent.

Have you tried our free Cognitive Function Test yet? Find out your Alzheimer’s disease risk using our evidence backed Dementia Risk Index. If your risk is high, our clever new programme COGNITION can help you make the right nutrition and lifestyle changes to help improve your score.

The 8 Domains of the Dementia Risk Index from The Cognitive Function Test


[1] Saleh RNM, Hornberger M, Ritchie CW, Minihane AM. Hormone replacement therapy is associated with improved cognition and larger brain volumes in at-risk APOE4 women: results from the European Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease (EPAD) cohort. Alzheimers Res Ther. 2023 Jan 9;15(1):10. doi: 10.1186/s13195-022-01121-5. PMID: 36624497; PMCID: PMC9830747.

[2] Marjoribanks J, Farquhar C, Roberts H, Lethaby A, Lee J. Long-term hormone therapy for perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;1(1):CD004143.

[3] Shumaker SA, Legault C, Rapp SR, et al. Estrogen plus progestin and the incidence of dementia and mild cognitive impairment in post- menopausal women: the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2003;289(20):2651-2662.