This week, researchers at the annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) in Washington, D.C. reported that women with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) have twice as fast a decline in cognition as men with the same condition.
People with MCI—characterized by a noticeable decline in a person’s cognitive abilities, but not one significant enough to interfere with their daily activities—are at an augmented risk of developing Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. When it comes to Alzheimer’s, one thing is clear: women are affected more widely than men.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association:
- Two-thirds of American senior citizens with Alzheimer’s are women
- At age 65, women have a one in six chance of developing Alzheimer’s, compared to a one in 11 chance for men
- At 75, these percentages go up to a one in five chance for women and a one in 10 chance for men
- Of Americans 71 years and older, 16 percent of women have Alzheimer’s, compared to 11 percent of men
- Women in their sixties are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as they are to contract breast cancer over the rest of their lives
Maria Carrillo, Alzheimer’s Association Chief Scientific Officer, articulated the magnitude of these findings, “Women are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s, and there is an urgent need to understand if differences in brain structure, disease progression, and biological characteristics contribute to higher prevalence and rates of cognitive decline. To intervene and help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, it’s critical to understand the reasons for these differences. Results presented at AAIC 2015 begin to shed light on this issue, but much more research is needed.”
In an effort to discover the reasons behind this disproportion, the Alzheimer’s Association is conducting the Women’s Alzheimer’s Research Initiative campaign to raise $5 million for research grants specific to gender-related issues in Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
If successful, the research could help explain the reasons women are so commonly afflicted by Alzheimer’s, and provide invaluable information for the treatment of the disease.
For more information, or to read the AAIC’s press release, please click here.