Apoe4 Affects Women And Men Differently
We now know of a gene that’s linked to Alzheimer’s, called Apolipoprotein E , that can help doctors predict if someone will develop the disease later on. So far, we’ve discovered that the ApoE4 gene affects men and women differently. When studying women and men, women with this gene were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those without the gene. Men with the gene, however, were only slightly more likely to develop the disease.
Is Alzheimers More Common In Men Or Women
By Steve Hanson 9 am on February 10, 2020
Alzheimers can affect adults in all age ranges. However, statistically, its more likely to affect older adults, especially women. In fact, women have a 1 in 5 chance of developing this common form of dementia. Men, on the other hand, have a 1 in 11 chance of being affected by Alzheimers. Today, were going to look at why women are more likely to get Alzheimers disease than men.
Hormones: Help Or Harm
Estrogen plays a large role in brain health. It boosts levels of a chemical that helps nerve cells talk to each other.
It also plays a role in how the brain uses the sugar glucose, its main fuel.
During the period just before menopause, when estrogen levels naturally start to fall, many women complain of problems with foggy thinking and scattered attention.
So doctors wondered whether giving hormones back to women might keep their memory sharp.
But in a large, government-funded study, use of estrogen and progesterone after menopause was found to increase the risk for Alzheimer’s and other kinds of dementia. In taking a closer look at the results, though, researchers saw that most of the women in the study were getting hormones when they were well past menopause, long after the body had stopped making them naturally.
That made doctors wonder if giving the hormones closer to the time when the body had stopped making them naturally, around age 50 instead of 65, might make a difference, an idea called the timing hypothesis.
Several studies have now checked out that theory and come up empty.
But researchers havent given up on the hope that estrogen might help protect some womens brains.
Menopause isnt the only time in a womans life when her brain goes through big changes. Pregnancy also has an impact.
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What You Can Do To Lower Your Risk
We’ve seen that some of the reasons why women are more likely than men to develop Alzheimer’s disease are things we can’t really change â women’s longer lives and certain genetic factors, for example. Some risk factors, however — like not being as physically active as men — you can do something about. Here are a few more:
Heart Health May Be A Factor As Well
A different study found men are more likely to be fatally affected by heart disease in middle age than women, but men 65 and older tend to have healthier hearts than women. Researchers speculate having healthier hearts may protect older mens brains from the type of cell damage characteristic of Alzheimers disease. This assumption is made because poor heart health affects circulation, which could contribute to brain cell issues and affect parts of the brain that handle essential cognitive functions.
Regardless of gender, there are other Alzheimers risk factors that suggest its a good idea for seniors to have regular physical and cognitive evaluations. According to the Alzheimers Association, these risk factors include:
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Why Do More Women Get Alzheimers Research Points To Genetics Other Factors
Years ago, many scientists assumed that a womans heart worked pretty much the same as a mans. But as more women entered the male-dominated field of cardiology, many such assumptions vanished, opening the way for new approaches to research and treatment.
A similar shift is underway in the study of Alzheimers disease. It has long been known that more women than men get the deadly neurodegenerative disease, and an emerging body of research is challenging the common wisdom as to why. Although the question is by no means settled, recent findings suggest that biological, genetic and even cultural influences may play heavy roles.
Of the more than 5;million people in the United States who have been diagnosed with Alzheimers, the leading cause of dementia, two-thirds are women. Because advancing age is considered the biggest risk factor for the disease, researchers largely have attributed that disparity to womens longer life spans. The average life expectancy for women is 81 years, compared with 76 for men.
Yet even after taking age into account, women are more at risk, said Richard Lipton, a physician who heads the Einstein Aging Study at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.
With the number of Alzheimers cases in the United States expected to more than triple by 2050, some researchers are urging a greater focus on understanding the underlying reasons women are more prone to the disease and on developing gender-specific treatments.
Women Have Historically Received Less Education Than Men
Some studies have shown that that those with less education have an increased chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to those who have more education and further their careers throughout middle or later life. We know that activities that exercise our brains can decrease the chances or delay the onset of dementia. In the past, women were less educated than men and were more likely to take on homemaker roles rather than enter into careers, which could explain the higher risk for dementia. However, the education and career gap between men and women has been closing in the past few decades, so this does not explain the reason why more women are developing dementia these days.
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Longevity Is One Reason Women Are Affected More
The World Health Organization reports women typically live about 68 years longer than men. This added longevity has long been cited as a reason women are more often affected by Alzheimers disease. In other words, because women live longer, theyre more susceptible to developing this condition during their more advanced years, when the odds of getting AD are naturally greater.
Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality senior home care. Rockwall families trust Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.
Does Alzheimers Disease Affect Men And Women Differently Updated
Alzheimers disease is the fifth leading cause of death of Americans aged 65 or older. It was identified more than 100 years ago, but most of the research into the symptoms, causes and treatments of the disease has only come about within the last 30 years. While this research has shed a lot of light, theres still much more to be done to find out the biological changes that cause Alzheimers, as well as why it progresses at certain rates among those affected. Currently, there is no cure or effective prevention for Alzheimers disease.
The Impact of Alzheimers Disease on Men vs. Women
One thing that is known at this point is that Alzheimers affects more women than men. According to theAlzheimers Associations 2020;Facts and Figures report,;almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimers disease are women.
While there is no evidence showing that women are more likely to develop Alzheimers disease at any given age over men, one of the reasons Alzheimers is more prevalent in women is that females on average live longer than their male counterparts. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, womens life expectancy is around 81 years old, while mens is 76 years old. This means that by age 65, women have a higher risk of developing Alzheimers due to their longer lifespan. In fact, 1 in 6 women in their 60s has a chance of getting Alzheimers over the remainder of her life, while for men that figure is 1 in 11.
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Hormone Replacement Therapy And Dementia
Oestrogen is used in hormone replacement therapy . Some women going through menopause choose this to help relieve some of the symptoms, such as hot flushes and anxiety.
HRT fell out of favour when it was decided that the risks of heart and breast cancers outweigh any potential benefits on thinking and memory. Researchers are currently hard at work to develop better, more naturally-acting HRT. They are investigating whether starting HRT earlier could reduce dementia risk.
Game Of Genes In Alzheimer’s
One of the greatest biological risk factors for Alzheimers comes from a gene called APOE4, which has been liked to an increase in risk in both men and women. But having this gene could be even more dire for women a 2014 study found that female participants had an even;greater risk;of developing the disease than men with the gene.
Women also see hormone fluctuations during menopause that may interact with the gene and could help explain why their brains are more susceptible to Alzheimers. Around age 40 or 50, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels drop in women. Often times these changes cause women to experience hot flashes or bouts of depression, but the effects of change could have a lingering impact on the brain, too.
Researchers have looked into whether hormone therapy could be a solution to preventing Alzheimers in post-menopausal women since the 1990s. A 1996;study;published in JAMA tested hormone replacement therapy in women, finding that estrogen supplements led to a decrease in Alzheimers development when administered before menopause.
But despite the fact that the analysis was published in a major medical journal, little follow-up research was conducted into the effects of hormones over the next decade.
Thats a historic phenomenon, she says. If women are more likely to manifest the risk factor, then studying women makes a lot of sense, doesnt it?
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Looking To The Future
The G8 and the Prime Minister’s Challenge have committed to finding a disease modifying therapy for dementia by 2025.
With women being 65 per cent of the people affected by dementia, we must make sure that any new therapy works for them as well as men.
From lab to the pharmacy, it’s important dementia research, care and treatment can improve the lives of both men and women.
Looking To Mice For Insights
To assess the potential role of X chromosomes in Alzheimers disease, the authors of the new study conducted a series of experiments in a mouse model of the disease.
They found that male mice with Alzheimers disease demonstrated greater cognitive impairments and died more quickly than female mice.
When they genetically engineered male mice with Alzheimers disease to have two X chromosomes, those mice performed better on cognitive tests and lived longer than male mice with one X chromosome.
Conversely, female mice that were engineered to have only one X chromosome showed more cognitive impairment and died more quickly than those with two X chromosomes.
The authors show that the addition of an X leads to brain resilience, Mielke explained. Notably, it is not that the Y gene is necessarily detrimental, just that having two X chromosomes, indicative of females, offers more brain protection.
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Families Wait And Hope
While science churns slowly on, Audrey Schaffermans family is still struggling to cope without her.
When Audrey was 17, she married a man named Dennis Rose. After each child and grandchild was born, Audrey would proudly say, It looks like the Roses!
After Audreys death in 2007, Jaime Stone and some of her other grandchildren formed a team to raise money for research into the disease. They walk under the name Audreys Little Roses in;the annual Walk to End Alzheimers, sponsored by the Alzheimers Association.
Its the best way they know to honor the matriarch who took so much with her when she left them.
We used to be a really, really, really close family. But here in the last couple of years, nobody really wants to get together, Stone says.
Her grandmother, she says, was the glue that held them all together. Its been difficult.
Women Have A Higher Caregiver Burden Than Men
Speaking of caregiving, 60 percent of family caregivers, including caregivers for family members with dementia, are women. Studies show that full-time caregivers of a loved one may actually be at a higher risk of developing dementia compared to non-caregivers. Plus, female caregivers are more likely to change their lifestyles compared to male caregivers, often giving up their job, moving or changing their living arrangements in order to provide care.
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Risk Factors Beyond Longevity
Until now, the gap had been largely attributed to the longevity of women, since age is the number one risk factor for Alzheimers.;Roberta Diaz Brinton,;a University of Southern California professor who studies gender differences said, It is true that age is the greatest risk factor for developing Alzheimers disease. But she went on to say, on average, women live four or five years longer than men and we know that Alzheimers is a disease that starts 20 years before the diagnosis.
Thus far, genetic studies have;offered a;startling account for the difference. Researchers from Stanford University studied over 8,000 people looking for a form of the gene ApoE-4, a gene that increases the risk of Alzheimers. They found that women who carry a copy of that particular gene variant were twice as likely to eventually develop Alzheimers as women without the gene. Men who had the gene were only at a slightly increased risk than men who did not have the gene. While it is not clear why the gene poses such a drastic increase in risk, Brinton believes it may be how the gene interacts with estrogen.;
Another study suggests that it may be related to heart health. A study from;Framingham, Massachusetts suggests that because men are more likely to die from heart disease in middle age, those men who live past 65 may have healthier hearts which may protect the brain from Alzheimers.;These two diseases share many risk factors including high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity.
Why Is Dementia Different For Women
More women are affected by dementia than men. Worldwide, women with dementia outnumber men 2 to 1. Here we discuss the biology behind dementia risk.
Dementia risk is a complex puzzle.;Understanding the differences of the sexes is;one way that could;help dementia researchers understand its causes and develop new treatments.
Dr Aoife Kiely, Research Communications Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, explores why being male or female could affect dementia risk and diagnosis.
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Why Are Women More Likely To Get Alzheimer’s Disease Than Men
While it’s true that Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t discriminate, it’s also a fact that the disease affects women much more than men. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, women over the age of 65 have a one-in-six chance of developing memory loss, compared to a one-in-11 chance for men of the same age. Why is it that women have a greater risk of developing the disease than men? Researchers are still looking for the answer. But here are some clues:
Research Shines Light On Why Women More Likely To Develop Alzheimer’s
Protein tau may spread more rapidly in female brains than males, adding to range of factors
The reason women appear to be at greater risk of developing Alzheimers disease than men might be due to a number of genetic, anatomical and even social influences, researchers have suggested.
Recent figures show about 65% of those with living with dementia in the UK are women, with a similar statistic seen in the US for Alzheimers disease, while dementia is the leading cause of death for women in England. Alzheimers disease is only one of the types of dementia, but the most common form.
While one explanation is that dementia risk increases with age, and women have longer life expectancies than men, new research suggests there might be more to the matter, including that protein tangles found within neurons and linked to Alzheimers disease might spread differently in womens brains than mens.
The study, presented at the Alzheimers Association International Conference in Los Angeles by researchers from Vanderbilt University and which has not yet been peer-reviewed, used scans from a method called positron emission tomography. That allowed them to look at the way clumps of a protein called tau were spread in the brains of 123 men and 178 women without cognitive problems, as well as 101 men and 60 women with mild cognitive problems although not yet diagnosed with Alzheimers disease. Cognitively normal older people often have small amounts of tau in certain areas of their brain.
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Why Are Women More Likely To Develop Dementia Than Men
We don’t fully understand why women are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than men, but one of the main theories is to do with the hormone oestrogen.
Whilst both men and women produce oestrogen, its the main female sex hormone and so women usually have more of it. When women go through menopause, their bodies stop producing as much oestrogen.
On the other hand, men continue to produce testosterone, the male sex hormone, throughout their lives. Testosterone;is actually converted into oestrogen inside brain cells. This means that women who have been through menopause have lower levels of oestrogen in their brain than men of the same age.;
As Alzheimer’s disease is more common in women after the menopause, it is possible that;oestrogen plays a role in protecting the brain;from the damage caused by Alzheimers, and that this protective effect is lost when oestrogen levels are decreased.