What We Now Know About Alzheimer's That We Didn't Before
Women account for nearly two-thirds of those who have Alzheimer's (of people age 71 and older, 16 percent of women have Alzheimer's or other dementias, compared with 11 percent of men). Researchers are finally taking steps to find out why: The Cure Alzheimer's Fund now requires investigators to use female mice as well as males in the lab. Scientists are currently exploring the role of sex chromosomes and the impact of hormones on the brain at menopause, factors that may change women's risk or resilience. There's evidence that the disease develops and progresses differently in the sexes; for example, studies suggest that women may be more vulnerable to the risk gene APOE4. The bottom line: "Women suffer disproportionately in terms of pure numbers, and we need to understand how sex biology contributes," says Dena Dubal, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco.