Postmenopausal hormones reduce risk of advanced age-related macular degeneration

April 15, 2008

Postmenopausal hormones taken by women actually may decrease the risk of developing advanced stages of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), especially if women took oral contraceptives previously, according to a report in the April issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

Boston-Postmenopausal hormones taken by women actually may decrease the risk of developing advanced stages of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), especially if women took oral contraceptives previously, according to a report in the April issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

"Although genetics plays a key role in susceptibility to AMD, environmental factors, such as smoking, are also important," the authors wrote. "Evidence of higher rates of AMD in women than in men and links between AMD and cardiovascular disease suggested a role for estrogen in the etiology" or development of the condition.

Estrogen-related factors that were investigated in 74,996 postmenopausal women in the Nurses' Health Study included postmenopausal hormone use, past use of oral contraceptives, age at first period, and menopause and childbirth history.

"Current postmenopausal hormone users had a notable 48% lower risk of neovascular AMD compared with those who had never used postmenopausal hormones, although risk did not decline linearly with longer durations of use," the authors wrote. "Risk was lowest for postmenopausal hormone users who had used oral contraceptives in the past."

"Taken together, these findings suggest a role for estrogen in the pathogenesis of AMD that requires further research in specific early and late signs of disease," concluded Diane Feskanich, ScD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and colleagues.