A new analysis from researchers at University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine looked at the combined data of 27 independent research studies on over 58,000 people and found that women are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than men, but only during a specific 10-year period.
In the study, women between 55 and 85 with one copy of the ApoE4 allele had the same risk as men with one copy of the gene – except during one crucial decade. Women ages 65 to 75 had a greater chance of developing Alzheimer’s than men of the same age.
The results challenge the previous assumption that women with one copy of the ApoE4 gene are 50 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, which was concluded from one study from 1997.
The study is important because it may provide clues to what causes the disease, and specifically what makes women so susceptible to the disease during that time frame. Almost two-thirds of the five million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease are women. The study’s authors suggested that more research should be done on females at risk for the disease. “The bottom line is women are not little men,” said the study’s co-author, Dr. Judy Pa. “A lot more research needs to target women because gender-specific variations can be so subtle that scientists often miss them when they control for gender or use models to rule out gender differences. Most research today is ignoring a big part of the equation.”
Read the full write-up here.