NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - It’s a startling number. Every 65 seconds in the U.S. someone develops Alzheimer’s disease. Now according to new research, there’s a biological reason why women are more likely to get the disease.
Harry and Bettie Dunn love to reminisce about their past adventures during their 70 years of marriage.
“I know as you grow older you begin to lose some memory, but I noticed she was losing it more than I was,” Harry shared.
Harry believes it progressed more rapidly after a bad fall that broke Bettie’s hip.
“She really doesn’t know people that we’ve been friends with, sometimes she doesn’t know her own children,” continued Harry.
Sepi Shokouhi, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatric and Behavioral Sciences, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said, “Two-thirds of Alzheimer’s patients here in the U.S. are women.”
Researchers examined 400 brain scans of elderly patients to figure out why the risk for Alzheimer’s is higher for women than it is for men. They believe it may have something to do with an abnormal protein in the brain, named Tau, which is linked to cognitive impairment.
“These abnormal proteins can spread like infection in the brain,” stated Dr. Shokouhi.
In the study, they found the Tau accumulation was more widespread in women’s brains than men’s, easily moving from one part of the brain to another. Previous theories on why more women got Alzheimer’s disease than men pointed to the fact that women had a longer life expectancy. However, this research also points to a biological reason.
Dr. Shokouhi continued, “I can predict that sex will be more strongly integrated in future precision medicine in Alzheimer’s disease.”
A study out of UCLA also points to social sex differences when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease. They found the rate of memory decline was faster among married women who did not work in the labor force compared to married mothers who did. Other researchers are studying possible causes like estrogen and one copy of the apoe4 gene instead of two.