New Scholar Award in Aging
Francine Grodstein, Sc.D.
Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School

Estrogen, Antioxidants, and Cognitive Function in Women

In the US, 5% of women over age 60, and 28% over 85 may have dementia. While advances have been made recently to delay Alzheimer's disease progression, little population-based research is aimed at studying the earliest stages of cognitive decline in healthy elderly, a stage which might be most susceptible to intervention. Experimental studies suggest that brain tissue readily undergoes oxidative damage, and oxygen free radicals are believed to be involved in aging of the brain; thus, antioxidant supplementation might reduce the risk of dementia. In addition, estrogen appears to influence the cholinergic system, which regulates memory learning and other cognitive functions, suggesting that female hormones may protect against dementia. In this project, Dr. Grodstein will capitalize on a large epidemiologic data set with over 20 years of prospective data to study risk factors for early cognitive impairment; specifically, she will examine how dietary antioxidants and postmenopausal hormone therapy may influence cognitive decline in women free of major illness at baseline. In particular, she will examine the effect of duration and dose of these agents.

Contact Dr. Grodstein.