A new study has found the reason why women are more prone to developing Alzheimer’s than men.
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, which currently affects more than 436,000 Australians.
Women are more likely to develop and die from Alzheimer’s disease, and according to Alzheimer’s Association, two-thirds out of Americans living with the disease are women. In 2016, Alzheimer’s along with dementia was the leading cause of death for Australian women with 8,447 deaths, almost twice the men’s figure of 4,679 deaths.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, US have found that biological differences could explain the heightened risk for women. In a study published in JAMA Neurology, PET scans of 300 elderly people showed that women are more likely to develop a protein known to trigger the disease. Female participants in the study were found to have elevated early tau deposition compared to men.
While tau proteins are present in all brains, higher amounts of them have been associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. “Our findings lend support to a growing body of literature that exposes a biological underpinning for sex differences in Alzheimer’s disease risk,” said the study’s lead author Reisa Sperling, MD.
Previous research found that women are more genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s. A study from Stanford University discovered that women who carry gene ApoE-4 are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s than non-carrying women, while the risk for men with the same gene variant is only slightly elevated compared to male non-carriers.
Other studies also suggested that pregnancy history and hormonal activity may also play a part in women’s increased risks. While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are drugs and treatments that may help relieve or reduce the symptoms.
For more information and support, contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 or Carer Gateway on 1800 422 737.
This article was written in partnership with Over60.