Hormone Levels Likely Influence A Woman's Risk Of Alzheimer's, But How?

Hormone Levels Likely Influence A Woman's Risk Of Alzheimer's, But How?

Maki said that women have a lifelong advantage in verbal memory, and that's due to the hormone estrogen.

Women are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer's, making up 65 per cent of patients in the UK.

For decades, researchers presumed that women were more likely than men to develop dementia because they are more likely than men to survive into old age.

"With the growing prevalence of Alzheimer's disease dementia and the swelling population of LGBT older adults, we place a high priority on examining the intersections of Alzheimer's disease, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression", said Sam Fazio, PhD, Alzheimer's Association Director of Quality Care and Psychosocial Research. And it found an association between a woman's reproductive history and her risk of memory problems later in life.

One of the studies looked at almost 15,000 women in California.

"If these results are confirmed in other populations, it is possible that these findings could lead to the development of hormone-based preventive strategies for Alzheimer's disease based on the hormonal changes in the first trimester of pregnancy", Kim added.

New research offers tantalizing clues as to why that might be, suggesting that either hormonal influences or pregnancy-related changes in the immune system - or both - may nudge a woman's risk for dementia in one direction or the other. About 1 in 10 women and 1 in 10 men were improperly diagnosed before the sex-specific test cut-offs were used.

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Researchers at the University of IL, in Chicago, said their study shows sex-specific tests should be developed.

That approach fell out of favor more than a decade ago when a large study found that women who took estrogen plus progestin after menopause were actually more likely to get some form of dementia.

But Maki says more recent studies suggest that hormone therapy - especially estrogen alone - really can be helpful if women get it at the right time. "Use later in life is detrimental, whereas use early in the menopausal transition could be beneficial".

Women - who were an average age of about 71 at the start of the study - provided information on their reproductive history.

"These findings suggest that, despite all efforts and despite being younger and perhaps physically "healthier" than older people, survival time in people with young-onset dementia has not improved since 2000", said Hanneke Rhodius-Meester, M.D., Ph.D., of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam. She said when younger women must have their ovaries removed, causing a sharp decline in estrogen, there's also a sharp decline in verbal memory.

Currently, verbal and memory tests are an important tool for diagnosing Alzheimer's. Each year, AAIC convenes the world's leading basic science and clinical researchers, next generation investigators, clinicians and the care research community to share research discoveries that will lead to methods of prevention and treatment, and improvements in diagnosis for Alzheimer's disease.

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