Why women are more at risk for Alzheimer’s disease

Do you know that most of the people who are suffering from Alzheimer’s are at the age of 65 or above and two-thirds of them are Women? This means that Alzheimer’s disease is more common in women than men.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

In simple words, Alzheimer’s is a disease that leads to a person slowly beginning to forget everything that he or she knows or knew. It is a cruel punishment because It causes an immense problem to the patient as well as to the caregivers.

Several epidemiological studies show that Alzheimer’s disease affects women twice as likely as men do and the reason behind this phenomenon is not clear so far.

Women are disproportionately affected by this disease in fact as per a report, in America, nearly 5 million population are suffering from Alzheimer and two-thirds of them are women.

Why does this disease seem to affect more women than men?

At a very first glance, the answer may be that women tend to live longer than men. If you look at the actual age table then it is clearly visible that women are likely to live 5 years longer than men which means the older you are the more likely you are about to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

A recent study published on ‘Nature’ might find the answers to this question. The study led by Prof Keqiang Ye from the Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology (SIAT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, says that C/EBPb/AEP pathway is the main factor that drives the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases.

“Based on this theory, our team searched for female hormones that are dramatically changed during menopause and tested which hormone selectively activates the C/EBPb/AEP pathway,” Prof also added that follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) is one of the main pathogenic factors behind this disease.

According to Dr. Zaidi mone, co-corresponding author of the study and a tenured professor at the Mount Sinai in NEw YorkSchool of Medicine “During menopause, the serum concentration of FSH strongly increases, binding to the cognate FSH receptor on neurons and activating the C/EBPb/AEP pathway. This resulted in Ab and Tau pathologies, leading to the development of AD,”

The possibilities of Alzheimer’s is greater in women

The chances of developing this disease late in life are greater for women than men. A Sweden study report shows that women at 80 are more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease than men of the same age. Similarly, a study based in Taiwan states that one chance to develop this disease over seven years was greater in women in comparison to men. Even, a meta-analysis examining the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in Europe discovered that 13 out of 1000 women get affected by Alzheimer’s every year whereas seven in men.

So, one thing is very clear age is not only the factor that leads women to get affected more than men.

Age is not Everything

It’s true that one of the damming factors about developing Alzheimer’s is age – the more you get older, the more risk of developing it increases. Since women are seemed to live longer therefore scientists suggest that this can be a simple reason to contract this disease more compared to men.

But regardless of life span, there are some certain factors that put women at greater risk than men. Scientists have studied that mental and physical health play a great role in developing this disease.
Women are more likely to develop depression, which can lead to an increased risk of dementia. It is also noticed that women exercise less than men and it could be a factor that has been linked to higher rates of Alzheimer’s. A recent study says that exercise can help to reduce the development of Alzheimer’s.

Game of Gene

One of the greatest risk factors for Alzheimer’s comes from a gene called APOE4, which can increase the risk factor in men and women. But having this gene could be riskier for women because a study (in 2014) found that with this gene a female participant has a greater risk factor in developing this disease in comparison to men.

Women also face hormone fluctuation during menopause and that also interact with the gene and could help explain why their brains are more susceptible to Alzheimer’s. At around the age of 40, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels drop in women and that causes depression and affects the brain too. Research by the University of Miami has revealed that a handful of genes and genetic variants seem to be linked with this disease.

The last piece of the puzzle
One of the main reasons behind contracting Alzheimer’s is that women are about twice as likely to have an autoimmune disease compared to men. The reason for these differences is not clear but it is clear that women are more immune than men and this stronger immune system may end up having more amyloid plaques than men.

By combining all of the above pieces of information, it is a bit clear why women contract Alzheimer’s compared to men but it doesn’t mean that if you are a woman, you will definitely develop this disease. If a woman engages herself in exercise, eats Mediterranean food, sleeps well, clears all the Alzheimer’s plaques out of the brain, and takes part in different social activities then it will be helpful for a woman to have less risk of developing this frightful disease.

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