Hormone therapy (ADT) is notorious for providing us with side effects. Some of these side effects are best described as ones that deteriorate our general quality of life. For example the most common one we all are familiar with is, of course, hot flashes. You could also add erectile dysfunction as well as loss of sexual desire to these common side effects. In most cases, if you are on intermittent therapy, when you move into an off period you will experience a period of side effect abetment, at least until you go back onto therapy.

We also know that ADT can give us some gifts that simply keep on giving, like metabolic syndrome.   Now, based on some recent research there might be another gift that keeps on giving, Alzheimer’s Disease!

In what seems to be a first study there researchers are saying that they might have uncovered a link between ADT and Alzheimer’s. Their study is small and preliminary and it does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship, but merely shows an association between ADT and Alzheimer’s disease.

The research principle investigator, Dr. Kevin T. Nead said, “We wanted to contribute to the discussion regarding the relative risks and benefits of ADT, and no one had yet looked at the association between ADT and Alzheimer’s disease. Based on the results of our study, an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease is a potential adverse effect of ADT, but further research is needed before considering changes to clinical practice.”

Reducing androgen activity can lead to adverse effects and recent findings have also uncovered that low testosterone could contribute to cognitive decline. The researchers also claim that men with Alzheimer’s disease are often found to have low levels of testosterone in their bodies.

The research involved a very large cohort of men coming from California and New York.

They found that men on ADT had a greater risk for being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease compared to the control group. Their risk was actually 88 percent higher than the control group!

The study also showed that there is a dose effect. The more and longer a man is on ADT the greater their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  This finding does support the discussion that intermittent ADT might be superior to continuous ADT.

Nead was very careful. He reported that the study does not prove causation. But he did say that given the already high prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in older men, any increased risk would have significant public health implications.

The study does not look at the question of how low testosterone might contribute to a greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease so further research is required.