The contraceptive pill could stave off Alzheimer’s even years after women stop taking it, new research suggests.
Scientists say premenopausal use of hormonal contraceptives may improve the brain power of middle-aged women – with the effects lasting for many years.
The discovery could help to prevent declining cognitive function that occurs with age in conditions such as Alzheimer’s, reports the Journal of Women’s Health.
Alzheimer’s is increasing as the population ages, and experts have warned of the social and economic consequences.
Researchers performed cognitive performance tests on 262 women with an average age of 52, who were enrolled in the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention.
They looked at each woman’s contraceptive history use. Results showed using the Pill was associated with significantly better performance in certain brain functions – such as memory, speed and flexibility. Women who took the Pill for only five years still performed better than those who had never taken it, the University of Wisconsin researchers found.
Study leader Kelly Egan said: “Our analysis indicated hormonal contraceptive use may have a protective cognitive effect even years after use is discontinued. This is especially true in subjects with a longer duration of use.”