Hormones in older women; avoiding colds

January 12, 2009 3:21:07 PM PST
A new study on hormone use reveals an unwanted side affect. Plus, what you can do to fight off a cold. One condition in abundance this time of year is colds. We all would like to know more about avoiding them, so here are some new findings that might not be that surprising.

What we all need to keep in mind to avoid colds is washing hands. It can help keep those viruses from getting into your respiratory system.

New research says get plenty of sleep, too. Researchers exposed 153 young and middle-aged people to the cold virus. Those who said they slept seven hours or less were three times more likely to catch a cold that those who slept eight or more hours.

Researchers believe low amounts of sleep can affect the immune system.

Elsewhere, a new study published in the journal Neurology takes another look at the effects of estrogen and other hormones on the brain. Specifically, the brain of post-menopausal women over age 65.

It is known that estrogen and hormones can affect brain function, and some studies have shown a positive effect.

Now, researchers used MRI scans to look directly at the brains of women over age 65 who had been on hormones.

They found two sections of the brain slightly smaller than they were in women who had not taken the hormones. One of them was the hippocampus. Shrinkage in this area is also associated with dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Gynecologist Dr. Lila Nactigall is very familiar with hormone studies. She says this illuminates the effects of estrogen on women age 65 and over.

"They get a different reaction to estrogen in the brain circulation," she said. "Good in younger women may not be good in the older women."



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