Although Alzheimer’s is a global epidemic, recent studies are showing that women bear a disproportionate burden of the disease. The reason for this remains largely unclear, but an increasing body of research is taking a closer look at Alzheimer’s in all women.
Learn more about the impact of the disease on women and the studies that are seeking to understand why.
Two-thirds of the 5.7 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s are women. It was previously thought that women were at an increased risk for the disease because they typically live longer than males, and age is the main risk factor for developing the disease.
However, researchers now believe that there are biological and social determinants involved. Women also bear the Alzheimer’s caregiving burden, with 60% of caregivers being female.
Rebecca Edelmayer, director of scientific engagement at the Alzheimer’s Association, remarks:
“Women are at the epicenter of Alzheimer’s disease as both persons living with the disease and as the caregivers of those with dementia. Over the last three years, the Alzheimer’s Association has invested $3.2 million into 14 projects looking at sex differences for the disease and some of the findings today may explain risk, prevalence and rate decline for women.”
In response to the burden that Alzheimer’s is placing on women, several studies are now focusing on why there is such a gender gap when it comes to the disease.
From biological differences to lifestyle choices, these studies seek to understand (and ultimately bring relief) to women:
As research continues to reveal more about the differences between men and women, scientists are seeking to understand how the brain structural differences between genders impact the risk of Alzheimer’s.
It’s increasingly clear that Alzheimer’s research cannot take a gender-neutral approach and scientists will need to consider gender moving forward.
Why do you think there is a higher prevalence of Alzheimer’s and dementia in women than men? We’d like to hear from you in the comments below.