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Why Do Women Have a Higher Risk of Alzheimer's Disease?

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Alzheimer's Disease related image Photo: Getty Images

Did you know that the history of Alzheimer's disease started with a woman? In 1906, Dr. Alois Alzheimer (hence the name of the disease) was examining the brain tissue of a woman who had recently passed away. As the ]]>National Institute on Aging]]> describes, “she had died of an unusual mental illness...her symptoms included memory loss, language problems and unpredictable behavior.” When Alzheimer examined the brain tissue, he found three types of changes: the ]]>formation of plaques and tangles]]> and a loss of connections between neurons.

It seems that women have a higher rate of Alzheimer's disease compared to men. In a study conducted by Boston University School of Medicine, the researchers found that men have a one in 10 risk of Alzheimer's disease, while women have a one in six risk for the disorder. ]]>ScienceDaily]]> reports that the study included 2,794 people who were part of the Framingham Heart Study. At the beginning of the Framingham Heart Study, which was 29 years before the Boston University School of Medicine collected their data, these participants did not have dementia. At the time of the Boston University School of Medicine study, 400 cases of dementia existed as well as 292 cases of Alzheimer's disease.

But why do women have a higher risk of Alzheimer's disease? Even ]]>MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health]]>, noted that the female gender is a risk factor, but one that is not well proven. So what are the differences? It may be the risk factors that each gender has. In a French study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, the researchers follow about 7,000 people who were over the age of 65.

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