Alexandra Ycaza Herrera, PhD
In the early- to -mid-2000's the Women's Health Initiative reported shocking and troubling results on their clinical trials testing the effects of post-menopause hormone replacement. They reported increased rates of cancer and dementia in a subset of their studies, causing them to end the trials early. Since that time, hormone replacement therapy as a viable treatment option for women has been dismissed in the media. Despite the deluge of warnings against hormone replacement therapy, there are benefits worth discussing and risk factors that may make women more prone to negative effects. However, despite having implications for half of the world's population these important nuances rarely are openly discussed with the general public. In this talk, I review some of the pros and cons of hormone replacement therapy and discuss some our findings that suggest maintaining estrogen levels beyond menopause may have beneficial effects on the aging stress response and also minimize the effect of stress on learning and memory.
Dr. Alexandra Ycaza Herrera's research focuses on how the hormonal fluctuations and changes women experience throughout the lifespan affect the way they respond to stress. In particular, she focuses on how estrogen levels can modify how much the stress hormone, cortisol, is able to exert an effect on learning and memory processes. In collaboration with Dr. Mara Mather, she is lead investigator on a series of studies testing the effects of birth control use in pre-menopausal women and estrogen replacement in post-menopausal women, on the stress response, stress effects on cognition, and brain function.