More Women have Alzheimer’s than Men: 2 Possible Reasons Why

Almost two-thirds of people with Alzheimer’s disease are women, but researchers still aren’t certain why this is…

One theory is the fact that women live longer than men, and therefore their brains have more time to decline.

But there’s got to be more to it than that…

New research is giving us some insight into the events that may cause women to develop Alzheimer’s disease faster than men.

Read on to discover what these events are, and how to mitigate their negative side effects.

 

Continued below…

 

Estrogen’s role in Alzheimer’s disease

One possibility as to why women develop Alzheimer’s disease more than men is hypoestrogenism, or estrogen deficiency.

In a study published in the Journal of American Epidemiology, researchers followed more than 8,000 female residents in a retirement community from 1981 to 1992.

They found that the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia was less in postmenopausal women who used estrogen compared with nonusers. The risk decreased significantly in correlation to increased duration of estrogen use.

The researchers concluded that estrogen deficiency contributes to the risk and development of Alzheimer’s disease.(1)

Another study, published in The Lancet, found that, of the female participants who developed Alzheimer’s disease, the onset was significantly later in those who took estrogen, and the relative risk of developing the disease was also lower.

In this particular study, none of the 23 postmenopausal women who were taking estrogen during the study’s timeframe developed Alzheimer’s disease.(2)

While estrogen deficiency is especially problematic in postmenopausal women, it’s important to realize that hypoestrogenism can happen to women at any age.

Symptoms of low estrogen include, but are not limited to

  • mental fogginess
  • day-long fatigue
  • mood swings
  • depression
  • insomnia
  • decreased sex drive

If you, or a woman in your life, is experiencing these symptoms, have a doctor test estrogen levels using either a blood or saliva test.

 

Older women and the effects of general anesthesia

The effects of general anesthesia can damage neurons and create what’s called postoperative cognitive decline (POCD; also called postoperative cognitive dysfunction).

Factors that elevate the risk of developing POCD include

  • advanced age
  • pre-existing cerebral, cardiac and vascular disease
  • alcohol abuse
  • complications during surgery(3)

No link between specific kinds of anesthesia and POCD has been detected.

POCD is usually temporary, but it’s associated with higher mortality, increased recovery times and the development of Alzheimer’s disease, especially in older women.

At the 2015 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, held in Washington, DC, Dr. Katie Schenning of the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland discussed her findings of how POCD affects older women.

Dr. Schenning and her team discovered that older women exposed to general anesthesia during surgery declined in cognition, functional status and brain volumes at a significantly faster rate than older men exposed to the same.

The decline was even more pronounced for women who underwent multiple surgeries under general anesthesia.(4)

What makes this finding significant is that it ties in with research showing women with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) decline into Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias twice as fast as men do.(5)

Anything that could jump start MCI is bad news, especially for women.

Yet another reason to make the effort to stay healthy to avoid having surgery, if possible.

 

Although more research needs to be done to determine definitely why women develop Alzheimer’s disease more than men, these important findings show us some possibilities, and ways to work around them.

As always, the best “cure” is prevention, so keep up the nutritious diet of whole foods and exercise and do your best to stay healthy and out from under the knife.

And ladies, have your estrogen level checked if you think you might be at risk of estrogen deficiency.

 

Best Regards,

Lee Euler
Publisher

 

References:

  1. Estrogen deficiency and risk of Alzheimer’s disease in women. http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/140/3/256.short
  2. Effect of oestrogen during menopause on risk and age at onset of Alzheimer’s disease. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673696033569
  3. Postoperative cognitive dysfunction. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3959222/
  4. Women at significantly higher risk for cognitive and functional decline after surgery/general anesthesia. https://www.alz.org/aaic/releases_2015/Tues8amET.asp
  5. Women with mild cognitive impairment decline twice as fast as men with the condition. https://www.alz.org/aaic/releases_2015/Tues8amET.asp