Women’s Brains Decline Faster Than Men’s—But We’re Not Sure Why

by Elizabeth Ollero

It was often thought that, because women live longer than men, it was obvious that they would have Alzheimer’s at a higher rate. However, studies are beginning to show that age and lifespan are not causing this disparity. Women make up two-thirds of Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Not only that, but women tend to decline faster than men. We now know that Alzheimer’s disease, thinking problems, and memory problems are more prevalent in women than men, but we don’t know what the cause is yet. Many of us know someone who suffers from Alzheimer’s, a sad, scary, and irreversible disease affecting memory and thinking skills. As research continues, hopefully scientists will be able to discover why women get Alzheimer’s more than men, and then build a treatment to stop this from happening.
According to NPR, studies are showing that women’s brains typically contain more amyloid, which is the substance that forms sticky plaques in Alzheimer’s disease. PET scans were used to measure levels of amyloid in about 1,000 people, men and women, which included those with Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid was clearly more present in the brains of women than men, putting them at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Women aren’t only susceptible to Alzheimer’s, though. Another study shows that women are more vulnerable than men to problems with thinking and memory, especially if they’ve undergone surgery with general anesthesia.
The Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative found “that women decline at almost twice the rate of men and that women have faster acceleration of decline over time.” Why? They’re not sure. Women and men are different, aside from one having two X chromosomes and one having both X and Y. Women bear children, have different hormones, lifestyles, and diets. Finding what is causing this disparity can also help find how to end it, saving the lives of countless women.

 Image via BostonBioTech.org


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