Jul 28, 2015 07:04 PM EDT
Women are more likely vulnerable to suffer from mental decline faster than men when Alzheimer's start to take their toll, a study shows. Another study reveals that women who undergo surgery and take anesthesia are also at risk of suffering from faster cognitive decline than men. A third study suggested that the progression of Alzheimer's disease is triggered by abnormal protein that accumulates faster in women's brains than in men's.
The most recent research was presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Washington, D.C., providing an eye-opener about the debilitating condition that women must endure at the onset of Alzheimer's disease.
According to Maria Carrillo, chief scientific officer of Alzheimer's Association, women are the unfair victims of 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." She also explained that it is important to take a keen look on the different factors that trigger Alzheimer's progression to completely understand this condition among women.
"It's not just that women are living to be older -- that's true and that drives some of this. But there's something else going on in terms of biology [and] environment for women compared to men that may make them at greater risk or if they have some symptoms, may change the progression," Kristine Yaffe, a professor of psychiatry, neurology and epidemiology at the University of California in San Francisco, said.
In the U.S. alone, around 5.4 million people are diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, 3.4 million of them are female. Alzheimer's develop when abnormal proteins, called beta amyloid, accumulate in the brain. This causes damage to the brain cells, particularly in parts that serve memory and learning. The study serves as a proof that gender plays a significant factor in determining people who are at risk of Alzheimer's and to what extent will the disease hamper their lives.
Roberta Diaz Brinton, a professor at the University of Southern California's School of Pharmacy, linked Alzheimer's risk among women to estrogen since it is the hormone responsible in controlling the energy flow to the brain. During menopausal stage, a woman's body experiences a series of changes that affect the brain's ability to convert glucose into energy.
"Every cell - every single cell in your body -- has a sex. The X chromosome or the XY chromosome is within all of our cells, and that very likely has an effect on cell function," Brinton, who was one of the people behind the Alliance of Women Alzheimer's Researchers (AWARE), explained.
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