In the US, out of 5 million people living with Alzheimer’s, 3.2 million of these are women [1] and I thought that this was due to women living longer than men collectively but this gap between living ages of men and women is not substantial enough to be the whole story; Alzheimer’s is a disease that can last for as long as 20 years before the individual passes away and so the life expectancy of 5-8 years doesn’t add up.

Stanford University researchers who were looking for a form of the gene ApoE-4 which increases the risk of Alzheimer’s [1] and used 8000 to determine a pattern. Women with this gene were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s whereas men with the gene only had a slightly increased risk due to how the gene interacts with oestrogen. Oestrogen may inhibit the accumulation of amyloid beta plaques and the decline of oestrogen after menopause will increase the risk of Alzheimer’s [2]. However, if the absence of oestogen is so detrimental then why don’t men have a greater risk, a greater number of Alzheimer’s patients? Yes, after menopause women have less oestrogen but men don’t have even less in general and therefore I doubt this conclusion as well, unless the oestrogen is working with something else in the body of a female that alone would cause Alzheimer’s sooner but is held back by the prevalence of oestrogen.

Dr. Katie Schenning [2], an anaethesiologist found that women’s brains shrunk more than men’s as well as a more rapid cognitive decline. This was based on follow ups of seven years of each of the patients. Again, how many women with Alzhiemer’s have had an operation under general anaesthesia before developing Alzheimer’s? Maybe the general anaesthesia quickens a decline that was already in progress in these patients.

There are ideas about the difference between younger and older women like a difference in the function of mitochondria but not on why these variations in women declining make their risk more than in men. There may be an explanation in how more men who may develop Alzheimer’s are affected by heart disease first as there is a link between risk factors of heart disease and Alzheimer’s- high cholesterol and diabetes [1]. This can also be disputed as according to [3], 11% of women die from stroke in comparison to 8.4% f men, however, I understand that the fact that men drink more generally and engage in other activities that increase their risks of other diseases resulting in their mortality before Alzheimer’s can cause deterioration. Morbid.

It’s quite obvious that more research must be done in order to understand such a disproportion which is an opinion shared by many organisations who are claiming to invest in grants and research into Alzheimer’s; the Alzheimer’s Association launched the Women’s Alzheimer’s Research Initiative in order to raise $5 million for research grants into the mystery and hopefully the later lives of many will be improved due to this determination[2]. What are your thoughts on these theories and what else can explain why women develop Alzheimer’s more than men?

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