Race, Gender and Alzheimer's Disease

Are women and African-Americans at a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease—as some data suggests—or are there other factors in play? 

Race, Gender and Alzheimer's Disease

Women are statistically more likely than men to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. While 16 percent of women over 71 years old develop the degenerative brain disorder, only 11 percent of men of the same age are afflicted with it. That women live longer on average than men may explain this difference, but changes in hormone levels may also play a factor.


Dr. Samuel Gandy, a researcher at Mount Sinai Hospital, says the protein plaques and tangles that make up Alzheimer’s disease begin to build up for largely unknown reasons in men and women in their 50s, if not earlier. "That is very similar to the time when menopause and andropause, the male equivalent, both occur," he says in Big Think's latest special series, Breakthroughs: Alzheimer's Disease. "That coincidence has sparked a lot of interest to understand if the hormonal changes are sort of the trigger that determine the midlife turn towards Alzheimer’s disease."

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