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3 Reasons Why Alzheimer’s is More Common in Women

Alzheimers charity

Alzheimer’s disease, a neurodegenerative disease that gradually destroys humans’ ability to remember an function mentally, is one of the most devastating diseases known to us today.

It’s also no secret that women are most at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, as numerous Alzheimers charities have performed dementia research to prove that two out of three people with Alzheimer’s are women. The average woman has a shocking one in six chance of developing Alzheimer’s at some point in her life — and women in their 60s are about twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s than to get breast cancer.

So why exactly does Alzheimer’s disease predominantly affect women? What makes women so at risk for this disease? While dementia research is still quite limited, researchers have been able to identify three main factors that make women more likely to get Alzheimer’s:

Longer lifespans

Traditional dementia research has pointed out that women live longer than men, on average — and age is the top contributor to one’s chances of developing Alzheimer’s. So age must be the reason why more women get Alzheimer’s right? Perhaps not: women’s lifespans are only about four or five years longer than men’s, and Alzheimer’s disease manifests itself for as many as 20 years before an official diagnosis is made.

Genetics

Some research supports the fact that women may actually be genetically wired to develop Alzheimer’s. Women who have ApoE-4, a gene that increases the risk of Alzheimer’s, are twice as likely to get this disease than women who don’t have this gene. For men, the presence of the ApoE-4 gene only slightly increases the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Heart health

Other studies suggest that heart health may play a role in Alzheimer’s risk for women. Because men with heart disease are most likely to die in middle age, men who live to 65 and older have healthier hearts — and are less likely to have Alzheimer’s as a result. Because women with heart disease live longer, they’re more likely to live to an age at which they develop Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s and heart disease share numerous risk factors, including high cholesterol and obesity.

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