Of the 5 million people with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States, about two-thirds of them are women according to the New York Times. More women suffer from the disease, partially due to the fact that women live longer than men.
“By the age 65, women have more than a one in six chance of developing Alzheimer's during the remainder of their lives, compared with a one in 11 chance for men,” according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Researchers have tried to determine for years what causes Alzheimer’s disease and how the disease progresses. The latest research points to the findings that women decline faster than men.
A recent study from Duke University was presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Washington. It evaluated approximately 400 men and women in their 70s who already had mild cognitive impairment.
A person with MCI has mild but measureable decline in their cognitive ability, memory and thinking, but are still independent in their daily life.
People who have MCI are at greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
The participants are part of a larger trial to study the disease. These findings were the results after four to eight years of monitoring, using cognitive tests and imaging scans.
The results showed that even with “controlling for factors that influence memory and mental acuity, like age, education and genetic predisposition, the research team found that women’s scores slipped by an average of about two points a year, compared with one point for men,” according to the New York Times.
That means that the women declined twice as fast as the men.
The researchers could not conclude from this study that more women than men developed full levels of dementia. They would need to study many more numbers of people to be able to draw that type of an observation.
The question of why men and women seem to be differently affected by cognitive changes has vexed researchers for years.Read more in Gender Differences in Health