With more than two-thirds of American Alzheimer patients now being women, scientists are starting to challenge the conventional wisdom that this is merely because they tend to live longer than men. Finding out whether genetics, biological differences or even lifestyle factors could be important in influencing preventive care or future treatments. Some research, for example, showed that a notorious Alzheimer’s-related gene has a bigger impact on women than men. And a recent report by the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that women at 65 have about a 1 in 6 chance of developing Alzheimer’s during the rest of their lives, compared with a 1 in 11 chance for men. “There are enough biological questions pointing to increased risk in women that we need to delve into that and find out why,” said Maria Carrillo, chief science officer for the Alzheimer’s Association. “There is a lot that is not understood and not known. It’s time we did something about it.” That is why her association brought together 15 scientists last month to discuss what’s known about women’s increased risk, and promised to start funding more research into the issue to address this gap.
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