Health Watch: A higher risk for Alzheimer's in women than men

Harry and Bettie Dunn love to reminisce about their past adventures during their 70 years of marriage.

"I know as you grow older you begin to lose some memory, but I noticed she was losing it more than I was," Harry said.

Harry believes it progressed more rapidly after a bad fall that broke Bettie's hip.

"She really doesn't know people that we've been friends with, sometimes she doesn't know her own children," Harry said.

"Two-thirds of Alzheimer's patients here in the US, are women," says Asst. Professor of Psychiatric and Behavioral Sciences, Sepi Shokouhi, Ph.D.

Researchers examined 400 brain scans of elderly patients to figure out why the risk for Alzheimer's is higher for women than it is for men.

They believe it may have something to do with an abnormal protein in the brain, named Tau, which is linked to cognitive impairment.

"These abnormal proteins can spread like an infection in the brain," Dr. Shokouhi said.

In the study, they found the Tau Accumulation was more widespread in women's brains than men's, easily moving from one part of the brain to another.

Previous theories on why more women were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease than men pointed to the fact that women had a longer life expectancy.

However, this research also points to a biological reason.

"I can predict that sex will be more strongly integrated in future precision medicine in Alzheimer's disease," Dr. Shokouhi said.
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