Still Alice: Women are more at risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

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Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's disease

There is evidence that brains of women are more susceptible to Alzheimer’s Disease

Growing evidence suggests women may be at increased risk of certain physiological changes associated with Alzheimer disease (AD).

A study that examined nearly 300 clinically normal adults (average age 74) for deposits in the brain of the protein tau, a marker of AD, as measured by positron emission tomography, came to these conclusions. The study was published in JAMA Neurology. Alzheimer’s is one of the commonest forms of dementia. The disease that progressively leads to a person losing all memory – including what is required to perform his or her personal tasks – has been on the rise the world over.

“It is estimated that by the year 2020, approximately 70% of the world’s population aged 60 and above will be living in developing countries, with 14.2% in India”

The higher incidence is also a function of the rising life expectancy in countries across the world. In India it is also about poor mental health and geriatric care services and poor awareness about the disease when it is usually dismissed just as forgetfulness of old age rather than an ailment that requires treatment. A 2012 study in the Journal of Neurology said: “Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other forms of dementia are a growing public health problem among the elderly in developing countries, whose aging population is increasing rapidly. It is estimated that by the year 2020, approximately 70% of the world’s population aged 60 and above will be living in developing countries, with 14.2% in India.” The study also found a higher incidence of the disease in South India as compared to north India.

The JAMA study found that women showed more tau in a region of the brain than men, which was associated with individuals with greater amounts of plaque deposits of the β-amyloid peptide (Aβ), another marker of AD.

These findings support other studies in identifying potential reasons for differences in risk for AD between men and women. The study population may limit the generalizability of these results.

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