The statistics show that nearly two thirds of people living with Alzheimer's disease are women.
Can the numbers be explained by the simple fact that women live longer? Or are other factors in play?
The most interesting aspect of the graph above is that women lead in each of the age categories - 65, 75, 85.
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What puts women at greater risk?
- Can it be attributed to genetics?
- Can differing biological factors in how women age be the reason?
- Could differences in lifestyle be a cause?
Stanford University researchers analyzed records of more than 8,000 people for a form of a gene named ApoE-4, long known to increase Alzheimer's risk.
Women who carry a copy of that gene variant were about twice as likely to eventually develop Alzheimer's as women without the gene, while men's risk was only slightly increased, Stanford's Dr. Michael Greicius reported last year.
"It is true that age is the greatest risk factor for developing Alzheimer's disease," said University of Southern California professor Roberta Diaz Brinton, who presented data on gender differences at a meeting of the National Institutes of Health this year.
But, she said, "on average, women live four or five years longer than men, and we know that Alzheimer's is a disease that starts 20 years before the diagnosis." That's how early cellular damage can quietly begin.
Data from the long-running Framingham Heart Study suggests that because more men die from heart disease in middle age, those who survive past 65 may have healthier hearts that in turn provide some brain protection.
What about hormones?
Studies have examined whether genetic and hormonal mechanisms contribute to the sex disparities in Alzheimer’s risk and pathology. Some have indicated a greater potency of the risk associated with APOE4 allele in women.
"There are enough biological questions pointing to increased risk in women that we need to delve into that and find out why," said Maria Carrillo, chief science officer for the Alzheimer's Association.
One thing seem clear right now -- the combination of age and gender are major risk factors in the development of Alzheimer's disease; and women are at greater risk - Bob DeMarco, AlzheimersReadingRoom.com
You thoughts and comments are welcome below.
New questions about why more women than men have Alzheimer's - Yahoo News
When Mars Versus Venus is Not a Cliché: Gender Differences in the Neurobiology of Alzheimer’s Disease
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