Alzheimer's disease may worsen twice as fast in women, according to a new study.
The study, led by Katherine Lin of Duke University Medical Center, followed 400 men and women who all tested for mild cognitive impairment -- meaning they showed early signs of impaired thinking, but their daily lives weren't affected by it yet. The researchers followed up with participants after eight years and found that women's memories had deteriorated twice as quickly as men's did.
"Our findings suggest that men and women at risk of Alzheimer's may be having two very different experiences," Lin said, according to NBC.
Although this was a small study, scientists have long noticed and investigated gender difference in the disease. Previous research has found that by age 65, women have a 1 in 6 chance of developing Alzheimer's, while men have a 1 in 11 chance.
So, what gives? The answer isn't entirely clear, but a large study released in April by Stanford University found that women were more susceptible to a particular genetic variation that increased Alzheimer's risk. Women who had a copy of the gene variant,ApoE4 were twice as likely to develop the disease, compared to women who didn't have it. By comparison, men with the variation only saw a marginal increase in Alzheimer's risk.
Although these statistics aren't exactly comforting, understanding the root causes and trends in the disease's progression lays the foundation for better screening and treatment of Alzheimer's disease going forward.
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