3 Theories on Why Alzheimer’s Hits Women Harder Than Men

Women who develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease typically face a faster rate of decline of their mental functioning than men in the same stage of the disease, according to a recent analysis.

Researchers from the University of Hertfordshire examined fifteen studies conducted on Alzheimer’s sufferers of both sexes and found that men with the disease regularly outperform women on tests that measured a senior’s memory capacity and their ability to perform verbal and visuo-spatial tasks (i.e. estimating distance and depth).

Previous research has shown that women are more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease than men, but investigation into how the disease affects the brains of the sexes differently has been sparse and conflicting.

The current study aimed to get a clearer picture of the gender-based differences of Alzheimer’s and the potential causes of these disparities.

Study authors concluded that there must be something about Alzheimer’s that puts women at a disadvantage. They offered several theories to explain why men and women with the disease experience mental decline at different rates:

  • Hormones wreaking havoc: Studies have shown that estrogen may act as a shield against Alzheimer’s disease in women. Thus, the estrogen loss that accompanies menopause could play a role in making women more susceptible to functional decline.
  • Men may have more robust reserves: Cognitive reserve has emerged as a proven buffer against symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. As a gender, men may have more exposure to reserve-building activities (higher education, unique experiences, a challenging professional career) than women.
  • It could be in the genes: The primary genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease—the APOE genotype—has been shown to have a more detrimental effect on the cognitive functioning of women than men.

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Alzheimer’s Hits Women Harder Than Men originally appeared on AgingCare.com.

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor

87 comments

Cynthia B.
cynthia AWAY b.3 years ago

I hope the find an answer It is heartbreaking when a parent doesn't recognize their child. the same is true of course for a spouse/partner

paula eaton
paula eaton3 years ago

Thanks

GGma Sheila
GGmaSheila D.3 years ago

Interesting findings but hope more in-depth studies are done soon.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener3 years ago

Interesting, hope they'll be more conclusive soon...

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran3 years ago

noted

Jane H.
Jane H.3 years ago

i did not know this--ty for the info.

Christa Deanne
Oceana Ellingson3 years ago

Thank you

Genoveva M.
Genoveva M M.3 years ago

Thanks

Mary L.
Mary L.3 years ago

I am so glad we are closer to finding this monster. I hope we can kill it, the loss of self is frightening, at least to me.

Alan Lambert
Alan Lambert3 years ago

Forwarded