Diabetes and High Estrogen Levels Increases Dementia Risk for Women

Middle-Aged Woman in Business SuitOlder women with both diabetes and high estrogen levels have an increased risk of dementia compared to women without the combined conditions, suggests a new study published online in the journal Neurology.

Dementia is the general term for a loss of brain function that affects memory, thinking, language, judgment, and behavior. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia.

Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone that control both menstrual and estrous reproductive cycles.

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which high levels of sugar circulate in the blood. Common symptoms of the disease include increased urine output, thirst, hunger, and fatigue. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause heart disease, bone and joint disorders, skin problems, digestive problems, sexual dysfunction, blindness, infections, and even death.

In the present study, researchers led by Dr. Pierre-Yves Scarabin of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Villejuif, France investigated a link among diabetes, high estrogen levels, and dementia in older women.

The researchers measured the estrogen levels in the blood of 543 women without dementia and 132 with the disorder. All of the women were over the age of 65 and postmenopausal. The participants were also assessed for dementia risk factors including diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal blood clotting, and other heart health risk factors.


According to the findings, the risk of dementia among women with both diabetes and high estrogen levels is 14 times higher than for women without both conditions. Women with only high estrogen levels, but without diabetes, were also twice as likely to develop dementia. Additionally, women with both dementia and diabetes had 70 percent higher estrogen levels than women with only diabetes.

In other words, the hormone estrogen appears to be a factor in dementia development.

Previous research has suggested that estrogen hormone therapy may offer protective effects on the brain. The researchers were therefore surprised by the results of the present study. States Dr. Scarabin:


“However, more and more evidence suggests an association between high estradiol levels and dementia in women who have undergone menopause.

“Considering the expected increase in the number of elderly people with diabetes and dementia, more research on this topic should be urgently conducted.”

Other studies have also discovered a link between estrogen and dementia risk. The affects of estrogen hormone therapy appears to be related to the timing of the therapy. Starting therapy before menopause appears to decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease while starting therapy after menopause appears to increase the risk.


Dementia risk linked to high oestrogen levels and diabetes in women:
Diabetes and high estrogen levels raise dementia risk for women:
High plasma estradiol interacts with diabetes on risk of dementia in older postmenopausal women:

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Written by Heather Johnson

Heather is a writer, librarian, linguist, wife, and mother who loves her husband, children, dogs, and cats. She has a bachelor's degree in English with a minor in creative writing and master's degrees in library and information science and English studies with a concentration in linguistics.

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