`Regular testosterone spray may help women ward off dementia`

Last Updated: Oct 01, 2009, 00:00 AM IST

Melbourne: A new Victorian research has
revealed that regular testosterone spray may help
post-menopausal women ward off dementia and memory loss.

A pilot study run by Monash University`s Women`s Health
Program researcher Susan Davis said "This is a new frontier."

Davis, was quoted by `The Age` today, as saying "We were
quite surprised by the results. It`s cutting edge, a bit off
the wall and provocative, but the results are as promising as
they could be at this stage," she said.

The research will be presented this week at North
American Menopause Society`s annual conference in San Diego.

Ten healthy post-menopausal women aged 45 to 60 were
given a daily skin spray of testosterone for six months.

At the start and end of the treatment they had
"functional MRI" brain scans while doing a computer-based test
of their memory and visual and verbal skills.

Their performance in the test did not significantly
change, but the scans showed that in each case, their brains
performed the test much more effortlessly after six months.

"With testosterone treatment, less of the brain areas
involved with these tasks `lit up`," Davis said adding "This
indicates that less brain activation was required for the
women to complete the tasks."

Post-menopausal women suffer dementia and memory loss at
twice the rate of men aged over 65, a problem that is not well

The rapid decline in testosterone production in women
after menopause could be a factor, because the brain is packed
with testosterone receptors.

Previous research had suggested boosting testosterone
levels in women could prevent a decline in brain function, but
it had been done with paper-based tests that the subjects got
better at over time, masking the effects if any of the

The new research was the first to use MRI scans and
Australian-developed software called CogState, originally
designed to determine whether a sports player was affected by
concussion or was safe to go back into play.

There was no control group in this study, but previous
studies have shown no change in the MRI scans of women who had
not had testosterone treatment.

Davis said it was far too early to call the treatment a
"magic bullet".

Bureau Report