Grey matter

Women could be pivotal in unlocking a cure for Alzheimer’s

(Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

As modern science continues its search for an Alzheimer’s cure, researchers have noticed that the brain disease hits women harder than it does men. And that’s not only because women have a longer life-expectancy, thereby giving them a greater chance of developing Alzheimer’s during their lifetimes. Scientists conducting a long-term study found that women who develop the disease also decline faster. “Our findings suggest that men and women at risk for Alzheimer’s may be having two very different experiences,” Katherine Lin, a senior at Duke University and lead researcher of a study that followed 400 men and women, said.

The Alzheimer’s Association also believes the disease might impact the genders in different ways, too. Last year, the nonprofit launched the Women’s Alzheimer’s Research Initiative, aimed at getting to the bottom of just that.

Kristine Yaffe, MD, a professor of psychiatry, neurology and epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco, also believes gender plays a role in how Alzheimer’s impacts a patient. “There’s something else going on in terms of the biology, the environment, for women compared to men that may make them at greater risk, or if they have some symptoms, change the progression,” she said. About 1 in 6 women will get Alzheimer’s after turning 65. Around 1 in 11 men develop the disease after age 65, studies have shown. This spring, the Alzheimer’s Association will be handing out several medical grants of $250,000 apiece to fund research into Alzheimer’s in women.

Read the full story at WebMD.

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