Contrary to popular belief, estrogen could be used as a method to stave diminishing cognitive function as a new study finds obese women with high levels of estrogen have greater cognitive function.

Researchers at a Cardiovascular Prevention Program in Argentina found of the 300 post-menopausal women included in the study, those who were classified as obese, based on their wait circumference or body mass index, performed better on cognitive function tests.

The women took three cognitive exams – the mini-mental statement examination, a common test for evaluating the global cognitive status; a clock-drawing test to determine the women’s executive functions – planning, problem-solving, verbal reasoning; and the Boston Abbreviated Test to assess the women’s memory.

The researchers found the high BMI positively affected cognitive function.

“Where there is increased adipose tissue, there is increased estrogen,” said lead study author Dr. Judith Zilberman, of the School of Pharmacy and Biochemistry’s Department of Physiology and the Instituto Cardiovascular de Buenos Aires. “My hypothesis is that estrogen may be protective of cognitive function in this case.”

In previous studies, researchers were apprehensive to recommend estrogen treatments to combat dementia.